Saharanpur: While the eyes of the world are fixed on the US presidential elections, with many hoping for and others dreading a Donald Trump victory, in a corner of Uttar Pradesh, a bunch of schools tucked away in Saharanpur are rooting for Democratic presidential hopeful and former first lady Hillary Clinton, perhaps like no campus even in America.
There are billboards and posters everywhere, with dozens of students even wearing “I support Hillary” badges and making impassioned speeches for her. The schools, too, are named after the Clintons – Bill Clinton School, Hillary Clinton Nursing School and Hillary Clinton Institute of Paramedical Sciences. All of them are run by the Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation in a sprawling 35-acre campus named Ramrati Education Complex (REC) after Gupta’s mother. Gupta is said to be a close friend of the Clintons and Bill Clinton had even visited the place in 2001, much before it was named after him.
Asked why was she wearing a pink “I support Hillary” badge, Mansi Pundir, a class 9 student of Bill Clinton School, from Kurali village near this town, said, “I want to convey my moral support and good wishes to Hillary Clinton for the elections. I have also made posters to support her bid to become the first woman president of a world power like the US. This will set an example for women in other countries too.”
Students have even created a presentation pledging support to Hillary. Over 800 students from Bill Clinton School (which is up to class 10) and 250 from HillaryClinton Nursing School are from neighbouring areas including villages like Kurali, Nandpur, Rampur, Umahi Kala, Azampur and Tipra, and many are from far-off cities in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Haryana.
Typing ‘I support Hillary Clinton’ and painting a smiley next to it on a computer screen, Aryan Bathla, a student of class 7, said, “Hillary ma’am is a very good candidate for the US presidential elections and all of us really hope that she wins and also pays us a visit after that.”
The complex started with Ramrati Women’s Polytechnic (RWP) in 2000. It was during Clinton’s 2001 visit that Gupta, an NRI and now a well-established entrepreneur in US, planned to name the other institutes after the Clintons. While RWP was shut down later due to lack of student interest in the polytechnic, Bill Clinton School and Hillary Clinton Nursing School were started in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Also, the infrastructure for Hillary Clinton Institute of Paramedical Sciences is ready but is waiting a final inspection for classes to begin.