People's understanding of their own situation, ideas about a better life and strategies for achieving their visions are influenced, among other things, by religious values and beliefs, with implications for the objectives and strategies of state and non-government development actors. Semi-ethnographic research in two slum settlements in Pune, Maharashtra, sought to understand whether and how religion influenced and shaped people's ideas about how to pursue development. The research focused on poor Hindu and Buddhist Dalit communities. Unsurprisingly, the people interviewed linked their lack of social and economic development to caste prejudice. Despite agreement that caste was a barrier to equality, however, different responses to it were expressed. Building upon ideas put forth by Appadurai (2004), we analyse the ways in which people exercise varying forms of non-economic capital to achieve social recognition and equality, which are believed to underpin development more generally.