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(Compass) – India ’s Supreme Court has asked the federal government why Dalits (or “Untouchables”) who convert to Christianity are denied access to a quota system for state employment. Under India ’s caste system, about 26 percent of government jobs are reserved for members of Scheduled Castes with the aim of bringing them into the social mainstream. Initially, Dalits converting to other religions such as Sikhism or Buddhism were also excluded; however, the law was amended to provide a job quota for Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists. “Only the Christian community is now excluded,” said senior advocate Shanti Bhushan of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation. Quota rights were denied to Dalit Christians on the grounds that Christianity does not discriminate between castes. However, this argument ignores the fact that Indians live in a society bound by centuries of caste tradition. The court expects a response from the federal government before the end of January.