This chapter presents an empirical description of India’s poverty and the poor in the context of economic change; and offers a thumbnail summary of the principal phases in India’s governance of poverty. It also presents contending conceptual frameworks within which the thinking about social policy can be configured in India; and reviews two social-policy initiatives adopted by the government: guaranteed employment for the rural poor and universal education. Governing the poor by the means of social policies can have different strategic approaches, with significantly divergent implications for citizenship and social order. Social policy, in the new ambience, is the product of a multiplicity of agents meant to create conditions for the individual—whether rich or poor—to become a citizen responsible for his or her own well-being. The thrust is to make room for the poor and the marginal by way of deviating from the liberal norms of universal citizenship and the neoliberal norms of market freedom.