Meera Vashisht
Meera Vashisht

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Last year, the Indian government announced a plan to replace each of the 77 crore existing bulbs with powersaving LEDs, right around the same time Meera Vashisht was working on a school science project halfway around the world in Texas.

The seventh grader began to think: would it be really possible for India’s underprivileged to replace their incandescent bulbs with LED lamps that are over seven times as expensive?

“I thought, ‘This is something I could help with.’ And it’s then I had this eureka moment,” said Vashisht.

The 13-year-old began drafting a letter. She sent the letter to a few people back in India she found in her family’s personal phonebook, explaining the government’s objective of seeking to reduce greenhouse gases while simultaneously bringing electricity to some of the country’s poorest villages. The problem however, she said, is while the government is subsidizing the cost of LED lightbulbs, they would still well outside the economic grasp of the majority in the areas the country sought to serve.

In her letter, Vashisht asks appealed to her family members for donations in the hopes she could distribute LED lightbulbs herself during a visit to India. “Electricity is empowerment. In rural areas, it helps kids study after dusk, it helps ease the workload of people, it improves agricultural output,” she wrote in the letter.

Thus far, Vashisht said she’s raised just under $3,000 since she kicked off her fundraising efforts, which will allow her to purchase and pass out about 1,600 bulbs during her visit to India next month. “I sent letters on a wing and a prayer. What shocked me the most was when I received my first check,” she said.

Her mother wrote a letter to Union power minister Piyush Goyal, expressing Meera’s desire to visit India and be a part of the government’s LED awareness campaign.

“Yes, we have sent Meera a confirmation. The young girl will buy LED bulbs with the funds that she has collected and distribute those among the needy in Delhi. The programme is scheduled some time in the first week of July,” said Saurabh Kumar, managing director, Energy Efficiency Services Limited.

After distributing LED bulbs in Delhi, Meera will travel to her ancestral home in Phagwara in Punjab.