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'Australians have seen this pattern before'

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To see the transformation of modern India, you should start with a look at an unconventional place - a slum. "If you go to a slum in Brazil you will feel endangered," says Ketan Patel. "If you go to a slum in India, you won't feel threatened because everyone is working. It may only be sorting garbage - it's a horrible job but you are so hungry for work you will take the opportunity, or if it's the next step up you are sewing bags together."

A slum may be a pit of poverty and disadvantage, but an Indian one isn't a life sentence; it's a way station, "a parking lot for human beings", as Patel puts it. And the movement of traffic through the parking lot is speeding up as India starts to deliver on its potential and opportunity widens. Patel invites us to take a closer look beneath the bits of corrugated iron that maybe five or eight people call home: "The most educated person in the family is probably your 12-year-old daughter. Your boys are also going to school [thanks to a national drive to improve school access] but the girls are probably picking it up faster", a syndrome not unknown in Australia, either. "When you get just enough money to get a tiny abode on the edge of the city, you buy it. Now you are transformed from rural peasantry and you have a small abode in the city."

An Indian slum is not a prison for life but a way station.Credit:AP

"It's an informal process to transform people's lives and that's what's driving the curve of India's GDP upwards," says Patel, an ethnic Indian who knows something about grasping opportunity. He grew up in an immigrant family in a poor part of London and is now a........

© Canberra Times