USA: Scientists Surface In Politics With Remarkable Poll Victories, Backed By This Unique Campaign

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It is somewhat of an irony that science has taken a backseat in the mainstream discourse of USA. A major reason behind this is the scientific ignorance of the elected leaders currently in power. They have often grabbed headlines for their blatant denial of critical issues like climate change. Their policies, which violate environmental laws; their irrelevant remarks on scientific matters and lack of patronage for scientific advancement, continue to shudder the very foundation of science in the country.

At the same time, more and more personalities from the scientific community, including researchers, doctors, engineers, teachers have shown a keen interest in joining the political scene in the past few years. But in most cases, their political ambitions are curtailed in the bud due to lack of funds for effective campaigning. That is where 314 Action Fund comes to the rescue. The fund backs electoral candidates from the STEM community (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and proactively runs electoral campaigns for them. In fact, in 2018, eight of their candidates have secured seats in the US Congress, sprouting hopes of encouraging scientific pursuits at the government level. 

How did 314 Action Fund come into being

Founder Shaughnessy Naughton is a chemist who decided to pursue politics with the sole aim to secure the future of science in the United States. In 2014, she stood for Congress in Pennsylvania but with no experience of campaign other than knocking on people’s doors, Naughton was unsuccessful. However, the unfailing support from the scientific community made her realise how much the country needed a scientific perspective in politics.

With this aim in mind, she started the 314 Action in 2016 and has successfully placed several STEM candidates in the Congress so far. The curious name for the organisation comes from the value of Pi (3.14) which is the most widely used mathematical ratio. 

The biggest victory for 314 Action

Perhaps the greatest victory for science in the USA in recent times happened this year with as many as eight members of the scientific community getting elected with appreciable winning margins, including five women. Needless to say, all of them were bolstered by 314 Action.

Interestingly, aside from individual priority areas, all of these candidates have affordable healthcare and environmental-friendly laws on top of their agenda. 

Know the winners

Computer scientist Jacky Rosen from Nevada was elected to the US Senate, fighting against Dean Heller who vehemently denies climate change. Rosen, who also has a degree in psychology, champions the use of renewable energy alongside working on pro-education initiatives like reducing the interest on student loans. With regards to gun violence, she wishes to enforce a ban on assault rifles.

Stanford engineer Chrissy Houlahan, also an Air Force veteran, emerged with the most remarkable win bagging 58.8% votes in Pennsylvania’s 6th district, reported Quartz. Her prime focus happens to be the expansion of affordable healthcare policies.

In Illinois’ 14th district, 32-year-old nurse Lauren Underwood overthrew Randy Hultgren, infamous for his support towards withdrawing from the Paris Climate Deal and repealing of the Affordable Care Act. The young and new politician is a noted advocate of affordable healthcare, reproductive rights for women and renewable energy.

Kim Schrier, a paediatrician with an additional astrophysics degree, won in Washington’s 8th district. Her sole objective behind running for the seat was a 2017 bill which deprived a major percentage of the citizens of accessible healthcare, which she plans to revoke at the earliest.

314 Action

Former nuclear engineer and Navy commander Elaine Luria also prioritises healthcare, education, gun reforms, addressing gender inequality and the issue of equal pay. She emerged victorious in Virginia.

In South Carolina, winner Joe Cunningham is an environmental lawyer and erstwhile ocean engineer. Renewable energy projects, ban on offshore drilling and of course, climate change is marked in red letters in his to-do list.

Engineer Sean Casten, the co-founder of Recycled Energy Development, defeated Peter Roskam, who grabbed a lot of limelight for referring to climate science as “junk science”. Hopefully, Sean delivers his proposals about clean energy policies.

Dentist Jeff Van Drew won in New Jersey with promises on higher education, equal pay for women and affordable healthcare. 

A much-needed change in power

314 Action runs fundraising initiatives for their candidates and their effective campaigns focused on practical problems rather than irrational promises have yielded unexpected results. It positively indicates that their campaigns have made many Americans aware of the looming socio-environmental issues. 

Also Read: With Three Minutes Response Time, The Fastest Emergency Medical Service In The World Is A Non-Profit From Israel

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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