It is essential to begin this essay by emphasising that minorities, including the Muslims, maintain aspirations and seek opportunities for development like any other community in India. Yet an empirical review suggests that Muslims are lagging practically in all spheres of development, including education, employment, income, assets and so on. There have been efforts by both the Centre and state governments to overcome deprivation amongst the Muslims across India, but a quick review of outcomes suggest little improvement. There is a need for durable changes, a recognition that deprivation amongst the minorities/Muslims exists due to systemic causes which can be set right only through broad-based public policy initiatives, not just through special purpose vehicles such as the minority/Muslim-oriented programmes; in fact, it would be best to assist them to strive to access their share within the mainstream line of ministries, departments and programmes.
India, through the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment, has made a strong sociopolitical statement of its arrival as a mature democracy, championing multi-layered decentralised governance, sharing substantial powers and a national pool of resources with the states. Further, the enduring canons of governance and economic development are grounded in the principles of socialism, inclusiveness and secularism and fully conscious of regional imbalance.