Nectar In A Sieve Essay

Nectar in a Sieve shows the impact of modernization on rural India through the story of Rukmani and her husband Nathan, and their struggle with the change that happened all around them, yet seemed to leave them behind. The book shows the effect that change had on their family, their village, and how it shaped their lives. Modernization played a significant role and had a big impact on family life, social and class division, and the land in rural India.

Once the tannery moved into their small Indian village, everything began to change for the families of rural farmers including their son’s views on working the land like the generations of men before them had. They no longer wanted to be poor lowly farmers who couldn’t afford the land they cared for, “if it were your land, or mine, he said, I would work with you gladly. But what profit to labor for another and get so little in return? ” (56). The sons of rural farmers could no longer justify working land that wasn’t their own.

They didn’t want to be dependent on another man’s land and allow another to profit off of their hard work. Instead the son’s of these farmers embraced the modernization of the rural villages, they began to realize the oppression that was placed on their families, and wanted more modern jobs so that they could potentially make something of themselves. The tannery provided them with the opportunity to have a modern job and make more money than they would have from farming, and gave them a reason to turn their backs on the traditional way of earning money.

The social divisions became more prominent as the modernization of rural India continued. While the rich were getting richer off of the tannery and new shops, the poor were uneducated and left behind. Once the tannery came into a village prices for everything went up, so while a farmer could sell their goods for more money, they also had to spend more money on their basic needs which made it practically impossible for them to get ahead or even catch up.

The modernization led to families having to take drastic measures just to be able to provide for their families, which caused them to sell their possessions and what little they had just to keep their homes from being taken from them. “Rather these should go, said Nathan, that that the land should be taken from us; we can do without these, but if the land is gone our livelihood is gone” (78); those that had so little would sell or do whatever it took to keep their land and families alive.

Some women went to extreme measures to help provide for their families by selling their bodies and making little money through prostitution, “but the man who finds a woman in the street… throws her a few coins that he might possess her, holds her unresisting to whatever he does to her” (118). Some women had no other option other than prostitution, and although they were only trying to provide for their families, the people in their communities shamed them for their desperate actions.

The modernization and change of rural India led to the oppression of the poor, shaming of poor women, and left many hungry and homeless. The poor farmers lost their land to the expansion of the tannery. Most farmers in rural India rented their land from the rich who could afford to own large areas of land, and paid a yearly rent on the land. They would make their money from selling their crops and only saving just enough to keep their own family alive; the success or failure of their harvest depended on if the rain came or not.

If the rain didn’t come, then the families would not be able to afford the rent on their lands, “that year the rains failed” (76) without the rain their crops wouldn’t be able to grow, and without the crops they would have no money to pay the landlord. Once tanneries came into villages the famers not only had to come up with the money to pay the landlord, but also compete for the land with the tannery owners. The tanneries’ owners wanted to expand, since they were the wealthy elite, they could afford to pay a high price for whatever piece of land hat they wanted.

Eventually, the farmers were forced out since they were unable to compete with the wealthy elite. Through the life of Rukmani, husband Nathan, and their children readers are able to see the negative impacts that modernization had on the poor in rural India. Through courage and bravery Rukmani survived the changing times, poverty, and ultimately the destruction of her way of life. While the rest of the world saw modernization as a positive thing, for those in rural India it was a scary and unwelcomed change.