Indian society is one of the oldest societies. It has got its own particular customs and traditions. Some of them are exceptionally very old and accordingly do not suit in the present times. Time is continuously changing and with the time, we should also change our thoughts, customs and conventions to keep pace with the times. There are some of our traditions that are not only useless but are also obstacles in the way of social progress. These social evils and superstitions that had crept in the society over the centuries made social reforms imperative for the development of the society and the masses. In the 19th century, the newly educated persons and writers like Raja Rao revolted against rigid social conventions and outdated customs. They were so definite in their mind that they could no longer tolerate irrational and de-humanizing social practices. Moreover, the backward features of Indian society, such as the caste system or inequality of the sexes had religious sanctions in the past. Therefore, it is necessary to understand and analyses our actions in the 21st century.
This Term paper entitled “Delineation of Social evils with reference to Kamala Markandaya’sNectar in a Sieve and A Handful of Rice” is an effort to study the different social evils in the society, both in terms of rural and urban areas respectively.
Social evils are the very issues which have an ability to influence any individual in one or the other way and are often viewed as problematic and controversial. In other words, it is anything that could be seen as destroyable and hurtful, individually or as a whole. Poverty, Illiteracy, Unemployment, Beggary, Prostitution, Crime, Malnutrition, Hunger, Starvation, Urbanization etc are some of the major social issues prevalent in today’s society. It has become a serious concern in the present-day world as it is gradually affecting roots of our culture and is blocking its rapid growth on the global scale. Working on the prospectus of social evils, has been a regular effort of number of prominent Indian English writers particularly Mulk Raj Anand, Bhabani Bhattacharya, R.K. Narayan, among whom Kamala Markandaya was also the most prominent writer who belongs to an old generation that has experienced the political and social traumas engendered by foreign rule. Her style was different from others. Above mentioned writers were all influenced by Gandhian philosophy, so their attitude was that of a reformist. But Kamala Markandaya’s approach towards her characters is quite different. Her works demand the characters to know their real self and to study their own mind and do whatever a normal human being will do.
Markanday’sNector in a Sieve is the autobiography of Rukmani. The social background is providing by a village in transition, and the conflict and tensions are caused by the intrusion of modern industry. This novel is the exposure and censure of social evils like poverty, starvation, suffering, superstition, and corruption and exploiter groups as capitalists, money leaders and landlords. The novel has been sub-titled A Novel of Rural India which obviously shows novelist’s aim to depict the life poverty, hunger and suffering lived by the poor tenant-farmers in countless Indian Villages.
While in A Handful of Rice, Ravi, a man leading a Bohemian life chooses a monotonous life because of his love for a tailor’s daughter. This novel portrays the predicament of the protagonist Ravishankar caught up in mental conflict. In the modern world social injustice generates poverty, hunger and exploitation, perennial values are in jeopardy, the honest suffer and the crooked prosper.
The analysis of the both the novels is aided by the writings of the research scholars who have talked about various points in their papers giving a deep insight on the problem of social evils in different aspects. Some of them include-
P. Jagadeeswari in her research journal ‘Social Evils in Kamala Markandaya Nectar in a Sieve’ has talked about the sufferings of the women in Rural India and what all are the problems faced by them in its entirety has been analyzed. She has also touched on the perspective of identity of women which was getting lost somewhere. She has dealt with the different problems of Barren Woman, Prostitution, Dowry system, fallen woman, Patriarchal System which has clearly hinted the issue of treatment of women and what is the relevance of studying about it the 21st century. In her conclusion of the paper, she comes up with the point that the element of Self Realisation in case of the women in Rural areas is defeated and therefore they migrate to other places in search of their freedom and to be expressive in their approaches to achieve the level of Modernity which at some point has power to eradicate the social evils form the society.
Dr. Monika in her other research journal ‘Struggle of Rukmani against social evils’ has explained the plight of a woman who face certain problems in the society and also the idea that
how she overcomes those issues by associating her with courage. She has also talked about the spiritual and emotional responses and their predicament with the systematic understanding. She talks about the vision of a female or Feminine Vision which is clearly visible in the works of Kamala Markandaya. In this paper the character of Rukmani has been explored and the actions which were taken by her are mentioned. Ultimately becoming the reading of women psyche in the novel.
Both these research papers talk about the plight of the women in the social context. The elements of Identity of women and social issues related to them have been covered creating a research gap.
In other journal of Dr. S.Chelliah, ‘Rural Poverty and City Struggles for Survival as projected in Kamala Marakandaya’sNectar in a Sieve and A Handful of Rice’ the scholar has focused his ideas on the rural and urban place struggles and the human relationships. the respective paper aims at providing a brief account of both the novels in feminine sensibility. The Eastern Western influence has been talked about and also introduced us with all the novels of Kamala Markandaya. The main idea of paper was to highlight that how rural and urban ares affected only on the surface level.
The other reseach paper is by Dr. Laxmi Sharma, ‘Hunger and Degradation in the novels of Kamala Markandaya’s A handful of Rice’ Here, the scholar has given the outline of two basic problems in the society which is hunger and degradation.in terms of the growth of the society neglecting the other social evils which are prevalent in the society. Taking the references from other books, she has just explained these two problems.
The research paper aims at achieving certain objective and thus by finding the research gaps will help to derive the desired output. There are different points mentioned below in order to increase one’s understanding.
1. The paper will include the vision of both male and female points of view in highlighting the effects of social evils on both the genders equally unlike the scholars who have some biased kind of approach in their research papers where they have talked about women on the surface level but if one goes and study the deeper level, it is much more than women suffering always.
2. Elements of Fatalism and Industrialisation are missing and therefore needed the attention of readers. These elements will help in studying the mindsets of different characters and accordingly highlighting the social problems is the aim of this research paper.
3. The detailed background of the period which forces writer to write about the certain idea will be analysed and hence the paper will going to add the transition period spanning from 1930-60, which creates a proper background to interpret the perception of the writer which is not highlighted by these researchers.
4. The elaborate study of the different societal issues of Poverty, Hunger Corruption, Illiteracy etc which are the key components will be focused on by including the theory of eco feminism and existentialism, which is in other words is dilemma of conscience itself.
5. The paper will also concentrate on the theory of Realism which is somewhere not mentioned in the above journals.
6. At last, the mention of Modern India will be there and how these social evils are still prevalent and needs to be changed.
All of the ideas mentioned above will make a framework to critically analyse the research by adding new approaches.
The entire research problem is about the concern of social evils which are prevalent in the society irrespective of the areas. Both Rural and Urban areas have some kind of limitation which are hampering the growth of that particular society. There is a degradation of values in the society. Both the novels deal with certain aspects which are definitely true but the research scholars have not mentioned in their research papers while evaluating it. The problem arises when the sufferings were counted only in terms of women. In Markandaya’s novel Nectar in a Sieve the whole female characters whether it is Rukmani or Ira, are the victimized category but the character of Nathan also portrays the sympathy part where he also suffers while living the life of Poverty and Hunger. He was an illiterate who had faced a lot of difficulties.
The idea of fatalism which hasn’t been explored is the idea where one believes in destiny and don’t do anything in order to get their problems sway away. They just wait and watch the things happening around them, which is not acceptable. The characters in both the novels have accepted fate in terms of their growth. They have full faith on God but ultimately their actions contributed in forming the cycle of some evils at a greater scale forming the concept of social issues. The research paper is aimed to highlight the problem of societal issues with the criteria of Social Realism.
Through the calculation of research objectives and research problems, the thesis lead to the careful description of the daily life of an individual mainly focusing on the lives of the lower and middle class by proposing the theory of Realism where the reader can understand that these are the characters which can be in the real life as well and can have the same thinking.
There are certain problems like Poverty, Unemployment, Hunger, illiteracy, the rude clash between rich and poor which have the power to make an individual unhappy. It leads to the state of unhappiness. Kamala Markandaya in her works has very well portrayed the serenity of village but not ignoring the harsh realities of the rural areas in the form of poetry which creates the immorality amongst people. The description of characters is not of the Shakespearean ones who suffer from tragic flaw but they are the commoners including both men and women who are pursued by both social injustices and endless economic forces which leads them to the point where they break into pieces. There is always an emphasis on the social and economic conditions and their effects on different characters respectively. There is a true sense of realism in her novels.
2. An insight to the idea of social evils
3. The portrayal of social evils with reference to Nectar in a sieve and A handful of rice
4. Theory of Realism in both the texts
5. Fatalism and Existentialism with reference to both the texts