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With faded temple photos in one hand and several of the day’s newspapers under his arm, Anil Chitrakar cuts an ­unusual figure in the cool midday sun of Kathmandu. But the engineer-turned-social-entrepreneur doesn’t seem to notice the strange looks he’s getting from tourists as they cross the hotel courtyard. Having dropped everything to commandeer my pen and notebook, he’s too busy sketching out a timeline of Nepalese history to illustrate why his country is on the cusp of something special.

“In 1820, China and India together accounted for 50 per…



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