, Volume 93, Number 1

Ian Hall
Periodically, India has sought to act as a ‘normative power’ in international affairs, advancing a normative agenda about how states and other actors ought to behave, what norms and rules should regulate their interactions, and what institutions should exist to make and enforce them. The rise to power of Narendra Modi, who became India’s prime minister in May 2014, with a declared aspiration to once more make India a vishwaguru (‘world guru’) and a ‘leading power’, has generated debate about whether India will again become a normative power. This article analyses the intellectual resources with which Modi might construct that new normative agenda. These resources include the work of a number of key Hindu nationalist thinkers with whom Modi is well acquainted, but also the thought of Swami Vivekananda, for whom Modi claims a special devotion. The article concludes that constructing a new normative agenda for a revived ‘normative power India’ out of these resources will be difficult, given the limited usefulness of these intellectual resources, and that Modi’s government will likely continue to pursue an essentially pragmatic foreign policy designed above all to further India’s domestic economic development.

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