Inter-caste relations at the village level constitute ‘vertical’ ties. They may be classified into economic, ritual, political and civic ties.
The castes living in a village or a group of neighbouring villages are bound together by economic ties. Generally, peasant castes are numerically preponderant in villages and they need the carpenter, blacksmith, and leather worker castes to perform agricultural work. Servicing castes such as priest (brahmin as well as non-brahmin), barber, washer man and water carrier cater to the needs of everyone except the Harijans. Artisan castes produce goods which are wanted by everyone. Most Indian villages do not have more than a few of the essential castes and depend on neighbouring villages for certain services, skills and goods.
In rural India, with its largely subsistence and not fully monetized economy, the relationship between; the different caste groups in a village takes a particular form. The essential artisan and servicing castes are paid annually in grain at harvest time. In some parts of India, the artisan and servicing castes are also provided with free food, clothing, fodder and a residential site.
On such occasions as birth, marriage and death, these castes perform extra duties for which they are paid a customary some of money and some gifts in kind. This type of relationship is found all over India and is called by different names: Jajmani in the North, Barabatute in Maharashtra, Mirasi in Tamil Nadu and Adadein Karnataka.
Oscar Lewis defines jajmani system as that under which “each caste group within a village is expected to give certain standardized services to the families of other castes.” Jajmani is more a relationship between families than between castes. Undoubtedly, two families entering into this type of permanent contact comes from two castes, but their relationship becomes so strong and mutual that! Cannot be regarded as a mere contact between two castes. Jajmani is a sort of mutual give-and-take form of relationship in which one family is hereditarily entitled to supply goods and render services to the other in exchange of the same. The person rendering the services or supplying the goods is known; as kameez or prajan and the person to whom the services are rendered is called ajajman. Thus under jajmani system a permanent informal bond is made between jajman and kameen to meet each other’s need for goods and services.