David Hare, a Scottish watch-maker renowned as an educationist who aimed for a better India, David Hare was born on 17 February 1775 in Scotland. Growing up, he had no formal education; eventually joining his father’s profession of watch-making. Although, he never allowed his lack of education become a shortcoming as he compensated for it by reading widely. In the year 1800, Hare came to India and started his watch-making business in Calcutta. Within a short period of time, he built a prosperous business. At the same, he saw the exploitation caused by our white rulers to the natives and his heart went out to the needy ones. Taking a firm resolution to help the people, he handed over his smooth sailing business to his assistant E. Gray around the year 1820 and volunteered to work towards the upliftment of the people of Bengal. His choice of social service was both an important and honourable one – Education.
Having received no formal education himself, only associated with his Scottish friend Sir James Dinwiddie, the eminent professor and lecturer of basic science in Fort William College, David Hare realised the importance of education and the role it could play in empowering people . In 1814, in association with his friend and a great revolutionary of the time Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Hare started an English school in Calcutta. It was the first English school started by a native (credit given Ram Mohan Roy). But his biggest accomplishment came in a little later. After starting several English and Bengali schools, Hare felt a need for a bigger institute that could create a proper system of delivering education. He sent a proposal of opening a college to the Justice Sir Edward Hyde East. His wish was granted and on 20 January 1817, the iconic Hindu College was established. Initially a lot of problems occurred in setting up the college as there was no land allotted for the institution. Generously, David Hare donated a part of a land at total northern portion of Madhob Dutta Pond presently known as College Square which he owned for erecting the building of the college. It was a landmark in Indian history as it connected the people with the modern world. The college gave rise to new thinking, new philosophies and great personalities. Students came to know the opportunities the world offered and became aware of their rights.
The want of elementary books in Bengali and Hindustani languages had for some time been experienced at Fort William College. An establishment of an independent Institution to take charge of such business was being considered in the light of existing trend of thoughts. Presumably, some enthusiast within the circle of Fort William College, like a David Hare, might have actually initiated the idea and helped in forming an association for careful inquiry and deliberation on the subject.
The association set up for this purpose led to a more extended meeting in the month of May 1817, at the College of Fort William, when some preliminary rules were framed for the Institution, proposed to be established under the name of the Calcutta Book Society. A provisional Committee was appointed, with Sir Cecil Beadon, Esq as its President, and eight Members, namely D. Elliott, W Gordon Young, W. N Leer, J Wanger, H Woodrow, Kalikrishna Bahadur, Kashiprasad Ghosh, and Ramgopal Ghosh. The Bank of Bengal was the Treasurer. The Committee was formed: to take measure for making its purpose known to public; to procure it pecuniary support of all classes of the community; and to gather ‘the aid of labours and advice of learned men’. On receiving the report of the Provisional Committee, the School Book Society was finally organized and ‘instituted’ on the 4th July of 1817 with a set of operative statements of objectives, such as,
That the Institution was to be denominated ‘The Calcutta School-Book Society’;
That the Society was to manage preparation, publication, and cheap or gratuitous supply of works useful to Schools and Seminaries of learning;
That the Society was not to furnish religious books but free to supply of moral tracts non-interfering with religious sentiments of anyone;
With the change of socio-political scenario and as an impact of the growing influences of the orientalist movement, the policy guidelines of the Calcutta Free School Society founded in 1789 raised a serious question as to the extent of benefits it may provide to the indigenous people. Shortly after the renewal of the Charter of the East India Company the Court of Directors wrote In their letter to the Governor-General in Council of Bengal, dated 3rd June 1814, that they apprehend neither of the two government propositions, about (1) the revival and improvement of literature; and (2) promotion of knowledge of the sciences amongst the inhabitants be obtained through the medium of public colleges, if established upon a plan similar to those that have been founded at our Universities. That is because the natives of caste and of reputation will not submit to the subordination and discipline of a college. So the Indian Government did not take the initiative in the matter of the education of the people of this country. It was the people themselves who had to take the initiative and to do the needful.
An independent educational institution, The Calcutta School Society, set up in Calcutta on 1 September 1818. Like the Calcutta School-Book Society (1817), it was established jointly by Europeans and educated Indians. The Calcutta School Society was largely an initiative of David Hare and William Carey. Its aim was to introduce identical teaching methods at different schools, reconstruct and develop old schools, and build new ones if necessary. In the beginning, the managing committee of the School Society consisted of 24 members, of which 8 were Indians like Moulvi Mirza Kazim Ali Khan, Moulvi Belayet Hossain, Moulvi Dervesh Ali, Moulvi Nurunnabi, Babu Radhamadhab Bandyopadhyay, Babu Rasomaya Dutta, Babu Radhakanta Deb, and Babu Umacharan Bandyopadhyay. Mirza Kazim Ali and M Montaigue were its secretary and corresponding secretary, respectively. To bring the Bengali Schools under direct and systematic supervision, the city was divided into four districts,—to Baboo Doorga Churn Dutt was given the control of 30 schools having nearly 900 boys, to Baboo Ramchunder Ghose, 43 schools possessing 896 boys, to Baboo Oomanundun Thakoor, 36 schools possessing nearly 600 boys, and to Radhacaunt Deb, 57 schools posseasing 1136 boys. It is said “that these gentlemen entered very warmly into the views of the Society and expressed their entire willingness to take charge of their respective divisions. The Calcutta School Society was a brainchild of David Hare. Hare, Raja Radhakanta Deb, and William Carrey were the main force behind its success in assisting and improving existing institutions, and preparing select pupils of distinguished talents by superior instruction for becoming teachers and instructors. It established two regular or, as they were termed, “normal” schools, rather to improve by serving as models than to supersede the existing institutions of the country. They were designed to educate children of parents unable to pay for their instruction. Both the Tuntuneah and the Champatollah school, চাঁপাতলা স্কুল, were attended with remarkable success. The former was situated in Cornwallis Street, nearly opposite the temple of Kali, ঠনঠনে কালীবাড়ি, and consisted of a Bengali and English department. The latter was held in the house afterwards occupied by Babu Bhoobun Mohim Mitter’s school, and which was entirely an English school. The two schools were amalgamated at the end of 1834. The amalgamated school was known as David Hare’s School as colootala Branch School, after the death of David Hare on 1st June 1842 it is named Hare School, and has been since 1867.