This introductory chapter begins with discussions of social exclusion in India and its efforts to develop an inclusive democracy in a highly diverse, multicultural, multilingual, and multi-religious society. It considers debates over the uneven treatment of disadvantaged groups and the relevance of affirmative action as a remedy for under-representation and exclusion. It describes the plight of Muslims, who suffer from greater deprivation and disadvantage compared to other minorities. The chapter then sets out the main purpose of the book, which is to examine the politics of inclusion through an analysis of the policies and debates on the strategies of the state in relation to the lower castes and minorities, and the implications of the differential approach. It assesses the underlying issues that influence state policy towards disadvantaged caste groups and specific strategies to address the contending claims of deprived minority groups. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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