Western industrialists build a tannery in Rukmani's village, undermining their traditional culture and taking work away from the villagers. Their village becomes filled with smoke and noise, and the birds disappear. The quiet, peaceful life that existed before the tannery is gone. The tannery also corrupts the villagers, and they lose their virtue, forsaking old traditions for new ones. The desire for materialistic things takes the place of following traditions. Women become prostitutes trying to make money.
For the new generation, the tannery offers them a different life from their parents. Rukmani's sons go to work in the tannery instead of following in the family tradition of farming. They are willing to compromise their values for money. They also get greedy and start a strike for higher wages.
It is when the tannery buys the land that Rukmani and her husband rent that we feel their devastation of having to leave the land that they so love.
Western industrialization destroys the traditional life that Rukmani loves. Everything becomes different and chaotic. People are starving, losing jobs, and the old way of life disappears.