The sep-system regulates the economic relations between
the land cultivators (zamindars) and the members of the Services
trade (kammis) in West Pakistan. It is related to the Indian
Jajmani-system. The sep-system is a distributive System with
hereditary obligations determined by custom. The zamindars
receive the Services which are essential for land cultivation
and life while the kammis are liable to perform all requested
operations concerned with their craft and to be available
for certain general tasks. Furthermore, they have to discharge
various social and ceremonial functions. The underlying principle
in the remuneration of the kammis is not the payment of a
service rendered but the securement of livelihood. The recompense
includes a basic remuneration in kind as well as particular
concessions and gifts and is paid at a rate fixed by custom
irrespective of the labaur performance.
Due to the land monopoly of the zamindars the kammis are
subject to a certain dependence. However, this dependence
is institutionally limited by custom and the trade-union-like
function of the kammi castes. Especially the monopoly in the
performance of all tasks connected with their profession strengthens
the position of the kammis.
Recently the sep-system has undergone certain changes on
account of the increase in population, the transition to the
market and money economy and alternative occupational opportunities
for the kammis. Previous experiences reveal that the sep-relationship
is normally terminated not by an occupational change but with
the alternation of generations. The resultant difficulties
are to a certain extent solved by the influx of refugees into
the villages. Partially the position within the profession
is affected, too, the kammi changing e. g. to piecework and
money wage or combining the sep-relations with contract work.
The disintegration of the sep-system to be expected requires
the implementation of a number of economic policies.