In 1917, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore published a series of essays on nationalism; in them, he wrote: “Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism, nor the fierce self-idolatry of nation-worship, is the goal of human history.” Today, a century after the fact, his words have been lost in the tides of a toxic brand of nationalism. India, over the last five years, has witnessed a sea-change in the nation’s political discourse. The Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, was elected into power in 2014 and since, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has, in a number of ways, bolstered a culture of religious bias and islamophobia. In fact, prejudice has even been enshrined in law. In the western state of Maharashtra, members of the BJP have been able to ban the sale of beef (the cow is considered holy in Hinduism), curbing fundamental democratic liberties, like the right to control one’s diet, at the behest of religion. At the center and in other states, the assault on secularism and democracy has manifested in different iterations, from Chief Ministers that openly advocate the abduction and mistreatment of Muslim women, to re-writing history textbooks and replacing fact with fiction, purporting conspiracies about Hindu-Muslim tension that stretches back for centuries. Delegates, at conference, the Rajya Sabha will focus on returning India to the tenets of its secular constitution. We will debate the place of religion in law, and the possibility of enacting a uniform civil code to govern the country. We will turn a critical eye to the distress that majoritarianism and state-supported religious bias can impose upon minorities, whether women, Muslims, or victims of the caste system. Additionally, we will also discuss the role of educational reforms in shaping a new, forward-thinking generation of tolerant Indians. As a committee, it is your responsibility to decide what issues matter the most to you, and how you would like to solve them. I will do my best to guide you in the right direction; but, at the end of the day, this is your conference. This is your India, govern it as you see fit. At the end of these three days, I hope you leave having learned a little about the world’s largest democracy and the challenges that come with such diversity. Hopefully, committee will help refine your public speaking skills and you will return a better, more confident orator than when you arrived. Most importantly, I wish, if nothing else, you take away the importance of tolerance and empathy, and learn from the mistakes of prejudiced politicians. This committee is very close to my heart, and I am so honored to share this experience with you. If you’d like to continue the conversation, stop by and say hello, and we’ll talk politics!