Norms, Indian Foreign Policy and 1998-2004 National Democratic Alliance

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How do national and political identities impact on a state's foreign policy? In turn, how does the analysis of different normative beliefs advance our understanding of India's foreign policy during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) period? This article utilises a norm-based approach to investigate the composite entrenched beliefs underpinning Indian foreign policy. Such an approach generates historically contingent understandings of foreign policy beliefs across different political generations and ideologies. By focusing on pre-1998 Indian government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) foreign policy norms, and comparing them with the actions of the BJP-led NDA in government, the paper assesses whether differing ideological beliefs either constrain or influence (Indian) foreign policy. In particular, two elements of Indian foreign policy are analysed—dealing with Pakistan and going nuclear—in order to evaluate continuity and change in the formation and development of foreign policy in India. It is found that although the BJP-led NDA were frequently constrained by underlying norms present in Indian foreign policy, their own established policy beliefs often challenged these norms and influenced new foreign policy directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-315
Number of pages13
JournalThe Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs
Issue number408
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • India
  • foreign policy
  • Bharatiya Janata Party
  • norms
  • identity
  • Hindu nationalism
  • Hindu Rashtra
  • Hindutva
  • Pakistan
  • Kashmir
  • Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
  • Jana Sangh
  • Akhand Bharat
  • Shimla Agreement
  • Non-Aligned Movement


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