This article analyses gendered discourses of development in rural North India, and addresses the usefulness of recent scholarship on development as ‘discourse’ for understanding connections between development and subjectivity. This scholarship is an excellent point of departure for exploring the contradictions inherent in the institutionalization of economic development and the global reach of its discourses, but it has focused primarily upon development as discourse at official sites of deployment, while paying less attention to how specific discourses and processes of development are appropriated by those constituted as beneficiaries of development. The under-theorization of this aspect has meant that the range of processes through which development projects may encourage new subject positions are poorly understood. By investigating what some women in rural Kumaon have made of their own development, this article contributes to emerging scholarship on development and subjectivity with an ethnographic analysis of the polysemic enthusiasm for development expressed by some of its ‘beneficiaries’.