The term inclusive development has become popular in the discourse and documents of the international donor community.1 While the concept is sometimes interpreted differently by different agencies there is a shared understanding that it has to do with a more broad-based pattern of development than has been attempted or achieved in most developing countries in the past few decades.
The prominence of the concept is reflected in the fact that inclusion was adopted as an underlying principle of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda which is to guide international and national development efforts till 2030 which succeeded the previous effort known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda. The focus of the SDGs is not just on achieving gains in development on average but on ensuring that these gains are better distributed within the society. This also accounts for the wide range of SDGs that were adopted. The motivation behind the proliferation of goals was at least in part the desire to include items that were of great importance to some social groups, even if not of general importance to all. The SDGs thus differ from the MDGs in both breadth and depth. More goals are covered (breadth) and more goals have been specified in a way that encompasses distributional outcomes as well (depth).