The journey of post-colonial India presents a mixed but depressing picture. Despite significant achievement in some sectors and dimensions of economic development, the state has massively failed in addressing basic human needs like food, shelter, education and health. However, the biggest failure is that the poor, marginalized and deprived groups and communities have remained excluded from the fruits of economic, social and human development. This failure sharply highlights the persistence of widespread inequality. This failure sharply highlights the persistence of widespread inequality. India’s low level of human development also reflects the extensive nature of human deprivations, suggesting a denial of rights and the absence of freedoms along critical dimensions of human life. This paper attempts to locate the extent and persistence of underdevelopment among the excluded groups as also identify some key causes of this persistence, particularly with reference to processes of governance and planning in the country.