The long-standing debate on growth and development has been renewed in recent works of Jagdish Bhagwati and Amartya Sen. This paper intervenes in this debate with evidence from Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu, which, unlike Kerala, did not have initial advantages over Gujarat, outperforms the latter on nearly every development indicator at the level of indicators as well as in the rate of change. This is despite Gujarat having a slightly higher economic growth rate. Tamil Nadu's relative success is the result of state intervention in providing essential public services. Further, the history of social mobilisation in the state has been crucial in ensuring the formulation and efficient execution of social welfare measures.