During the British rule in India there were a vast number of English people, who sincerely worked for the welfare of the Indian natives with the money they earned and saved in India. Born in Scotland in 1775, David Hare was a Scottish watchmaker, who came to India in 1800 at the age of 25 to try his luck in watch making. With his dedication and hard work, success soon knocked on his doors, as there was no real competition in his line of work and he prospered well in his chosen field of work.
However, unlike many British, who wanted to get back to England with the bundle they saved in India to lead a carefree, easy and luxurious life, David Hare had other things in his mind. He was shocked at the pathetic life condition of the uneducated mass under the oppressive British rule and decided to stay back in the country and dedicate his entire life to the cause of spreading education among the helpless Indians to lift them from ignorance. As he was not a missionary, he did not try to convince people to be converted to Christianity and thus earned their faith and conviction about his intention. He just lived his own life with sincere efforts to fulfill his dream and allowed others to live their own.
David Hare strongly felt that the need of the hour is to teach English language for the social and economic elevation of the nation. He started to seek opinion of his important customers in the matter and thus, became friendly with Raja Ram Mohan Roy. In 1816, Hare attended a session of ‘Atmiya Sabha’ organized by Ram Mohan and was introduced to Babu Buddi Nath Mukherjee and other members of the society. Later, they discussed the matter of teaching English in the city with Sir Hyde East, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
This united effort ultimately led to the foundation of Hindu College on 20 January 1817, which later became the Presidency College on 20 January 1817. David Hare was also instrumental in establishing the School Book Society on May 6, 1817 and Calcutta School Society on 1 September 1818. While the School Book Society took the initiative to print and publish textbooks in English and Bengali, as the secretaries of the Calcutta School Society, David Hare and Radhakanta Deb worked tirelessly to establish some schools to teach in English and Bengali, according to new methods of teaching.
After the foundation of the Hindu College, David Hare also established a school within the complex of the Hindu college, which initially started as ‘Arpuli Pathsala’, later became ‘Colootala Branch School’ and finally renamed Hare School in 1867.The official year of establishment of the school is 1818, however nobody is aware about its actual date of establishment. Nevertheless, situated at 87 College Street, the Hare School is considered as the oldest western type school in Asia. Today, the school is under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education.
The huge building of the school followed the style of the Victorian era. The big rooms have high ceilings, tall doors and no windows. A third floor, constructed later, on the top of the original two-story building, maintained the same architectural style. However, a new smaller building constructed much later, does not match the setting, as it followed a modern style. The combined campus of the Hare School and the Hindu College (now Presidency University), which is one of the largest in Calcutta, has two common playgrounds. A statue of David Hare, installed in the combined complex, is always maintained with proper care.
It will not be out of place to mention here that, when David Hare died of Cholera on 1 June 1842, the Christian missionaries refused to allot a plot of land in their cemeteries for his burial, as they believed, he was a non-believer. He was buried in the original compound of the Hare School-Hindu College. However, after reallocation of the compound, now his tomb with his bust falls within the area of College Square.