India’s landmark 2014 election brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power with a broad mandate to reshape the country’s foreign policy. His sophistication in this realm has surprised many, but current Indian foreign policy is also influenced by both structural domestic factors that pre-date his term and new actors who seek to gain influence or expand their roles.
This report explores the effect of domestic influence on Indian foreign policy by outlining the growing links between domestic dynamics and India’s international aspirations. It highlights five new domestic determinants of foreign policy decision-making in light of the BJP election victory in 2014. It also discusses five significant challenges that domestic factors pose to India’s ability to turn its international aspirations into reality. These factors indicate that even Modi’s historic mandate may not be enough to insulate his government from domestic forces – both allies and antagonists – that wish to shape foreign policy. The report concludes with thoughts on how these aspirations and challenges influence the playing field on which foreign policy decisions are currently made in India and may manifest themselves in the policy realm.