All Newspaper editorials in one place – January 27, 2024



January 27, 2024

Opposition block

Only a post-poll agreement seems possible among Opposition parties


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is all set to make the next volte-face, this time to return to the embrace of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the putative Opposition alliance expansively labelled INDIA may be stillborn. Mr. Kumar had been at the forefront of championing a broad alliance of Opposition parties to take on the might of the ruling BJP in the upcoming general election. The Centre’s decision to honour Karpoori Thakur, an icon of social justice politics in Bihar, with the Bharat Ratna, has given Mr. Kumar a convenient excuse to warm up to the BJP. Mr. Kumar recalled his demand for conferment of the Bharat Ratna on the socialist leader since 2006, obliquely blaming the Congress which was in power then for overlooking his demand. He has also expressed the hope that other demands of Bihar would be met by the Centre, which many see as a prelude to yet another alliance between his party, the Janata Dal (United), and the BJP. Mr. Kumar has clearly distanced himself from the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, his partners in the State government; the BJP, which had ruled out a revival of its alliance with Mr. Kumar until recently, has now said it is possible. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Mann, Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Punjab, respectively, have meanwhile ruled out seat-sharing with the Congress in their States.


Except for closed door meetings followed by press conferences, the INDIA bloc has not had any big public outreach programme since its formation seven months ago in Patna. Time is running out and there is no clarity on when the bloc will be able to seal the division of seats among its constituents. The alliance is staring at a crisis in the battle of perception and in building a robust structure for a joint campaign or election strategy. The initial euphoria had blinded the parties to the political peculiarities in each State, and the ambitions and fears of regional leaders that soon began to emerge. On January 13, Ms. Banerjee skipped a virtual meeting of the bloc that had been organised in haste. The Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and the Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav also stayed away. It is still possible that partial seat sharing arrangements depending on tactical considerations in individual States might still emerge, but any programmatic national alliance against the BJP seems to be out of reach. The Opposition parties may have to look at State-level alliances, and the possibility of post-poll alliances. The BJP, meanwhile, has ramped up its campaign, not merely to win the election but also to extinguish the last signs of opposition to it.





January 27, 2024

Endless war

Russia, Ukraine and NATO should make a practical assessment of the war


The crash of a Russian plane with Ukrainian prisoners of war on board has once again shown how delicate the situation between the two countries that have been at war since February 2022 is. Russia says Kyiv downed the plane, which had 65 Ukrainian soldiers, in Belgorod, a Russian border town, that has seen repeated Ukrainian shelling in recent months. Kyiv has slammed Russia for spreading propaganda, but has not ruled out its possible role in the downing. The incident comes at a time when Ukraine’s troops are struggling to keep up the fight on the front line amid Russia’s incremental advances. Russia, which suffered humiliating setbacks in 2022, has since retaken the battlefield momentum. Last year, Ukraine’s top general said the counteroffensive, which began in June 2023, aimed at recapturing Russia-held territories in the south and east, had failed. Russia has made territorial gains in the east, capturing Mariinka and making advances towards Avdiivka and Kupiansk. With its huge losses on the battlefield, Ukraine’s generals are calling for the mobilisation of up to 5,00,000 soldiers — which would be hugely unpopular. Worse, the changing mood in Washington has sent an alarming message to Kyiv.


Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has vowed to uncover the truth behind the plane crash. If it has been downed by a Ukrainian missile, it would pose a political challenge to Mr. Zelensky. But a bigger problem he is facing is the future of the war. Until now, he has put up a brave face, saying Ukraine would fight until victory — which is, recapturing all the territories Russia has taken. While Russia’s annexation of Ukraine regions and its war are a violation of international laws, Ukraine does not seem to have a practical path towards victory. Israel’s war on Gaza, which has the Biden administration’s full support, has also distracted global attention from Ukraine. If Donald Trump, the U.S. Republican leader, is re-elected in November — he has vowed to end the war in days — Ukraine could come under heavy pressure. The war cannot be sustained without uninterrupted support from the U.S. and its NATO partners. When pressure increases on the battlefield, what Ukraine is doing is to carry out missile and drone attacks inside Russia. Ukraine’s possession of advanced weapons, supplied by the West, has enhanced its fire power. Last week, a fuel export terminal on Russia’s Baltic coast came under attack. There is suspicion, deep mistrust and misinformation on both sides, which could lead to more violence and accidents. Russia, Ukraine and NATO– should take a more practical assessment of the progress of the war and be ready for talks, instead of continuing an endless war which is hurting all sides.





January 27, 2024


Modi-Macron meet frames strengthening ties between traditional allies. Collaboration will be crucial to stability


President Emmanuel Macron’s two-day visit — he was chief guest at the country’s 75th Republic Day function — has reinforced France’s special place in India’s strategic calculus. The partnership underlined during PM Modi’s visit last year to France, is built on three pillars — deepening cooperation in defence, sustained engagement in global issues, especially in emerging and green technologies, and people-to-people contact. These have emerged stronger after Modi-Macron talks in the past two days.


The two countries have adopted a roadmap for defence industrial production. This cooperation aims to create supply chains that fulfil Delhi’s security needs and provide it with the necessary bandwidth to negotiate partnerships with other countries. The pacts on clean energy and technology take forward the engagement begun on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Pact in 2015 — the International Solar Alliance, an expanding club of nations, is amongst the most tangible outcomes of this collaboration.


In 2021, the two signed a memorandum on green hydrogen, which aims “to bring the French and Indian hydrogen ecosystems together.” Macron’s reiteration of his last year’s commitment to increase the number of students studying in France to 30,000 and give them attractive post-study work visas will also go down well in a country undergoing an educational churn. The Alliance Francaise network will also be strengthened — this will be particularly welcomed by Indian students who often find language a barrier in accessing French higher education institutes, 35 of which find place in the QS ratings.


In recent years, India has inched closer to Washington. France, too, acknowledges the US’s place in the global order. At the same time, the traditional importance that Paris attaches to its strategic autonomy vis-a-vis Washington has earned Delhi’s trust, especially after the French government refused to toe the dominant Western line after India’s nuclear tests in 1998. France recognised India’s strategic importance at a time when other Western powers turned their back on it. In 2019, France blocked China from raising the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council after the abrogation of Article 370. French domestic procedures on defence deals have made the country a reliable defence partner. While pacts with the US are dogged by unpredictability due to Congressional interventions and export control regimes, French deals have no such strings attached.


Modi and Macron also exchanged perspectives on Gaza, Red Sea turmoil and conflict in Ukraine. In recent months, it has become clear that peace in these theatres of conflict will require a multi-pronged effort. The Red Sea is a significant conduit for Indo-European trade and the frailties of a US-led defence against the Houthi attacks are already evident. With Trump’s return to the White House becoming imminent, fears that the US will be a less engaged player on the global stage may not be unfounded. Indo-French collaboration could be among the keys to ensuring stability in a complex geopolitical environment.




January 27, 2024


Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s swipe at Fali Nariman is a low blow, more so because he should know better


Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan’s remarks, in response to criticism by (retired) Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Nariman for holding up bills in the state, are low blows. They ill behove the high constitutional office that Governor Khan holds. Speaking at a public event on Wednesday, the governor pointed to Justice Nariman’s father, the eminent advocate and jurist, Fali Nariman, being employed by the Pinarayi Vijayan government for legal advice and alleged a conflict of interest. Justice Nariman’s comments over the governor’s “wholesale reference of bills to the President after sitting on 23 bills without a decision”, he suggested, had to do with the fee paid to his father for legal opinions given to the government.


It is not as if Justice Rohinton’s criticism was his alone. For some time now, Governor Khan has been engaged in a very visible and very unseemly tussle with the Pinarayi government. And while both sides have failed to abide by norms of civility in their frequent run-ins, the growing belligerence between the government and Raj Bhawan has hurt the governor’s office particularly. It has also drawn a sharp rebuke from the Supreme Court. After the Kerala government moved the top court, a bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud asked: “What was the governor doing for two years sitting on the bills?”


But this is not just a story of a governor with a thin skin. His drawing of Fali Nariman into the disagreement with his son is outrageous, also, for the disrespect it shows to one of the country’s most distinguished constitutional experts, seen by many, because of his formidable body of work, as the conscience-keeper of the court. And because Governor Khan, especially, should know a thing or two about heeding the call of conscience. He is, after all, the politician who famously went against the current, took a stand and resigned from his position as minister of state, protesting against the Rajiv Gandhi government’s dismal somersault on the Shah Bano case in 1986.


For Governor Khan to stoop to make a point, therefore, is a terrible let-down. He needs to urgently mend relations with the government so that he can better fulfil his role as the custodian of constitutionalism in the state. Lashing out at critics and criticism, and making bad faith arguments while doing so, is an unnecessary and unflattering diversion from the onerous task at hand.





January 27, 2024


Butter chicken is a legend. Does it matter who got to it first?


Butter chicken can be many things to many people. It can be a taste of home or a sinful indulgence; a weightwatcher’s bane or a foreigner’s foray into a new, vaunted cuisine. As it turns out, it can also be a bitter bone of contention, capable of simmering for years and dragging colleagues-turned-foes to court. The fight between Delhi restaurants Moti Mahal and Daryaganj over the ownership of butter chicken has now moved into legal territory. With Moti Mahal filing a trademark violation suit against Daryaganj, Delhi High Court is set to be the arbiter of who got to the coveted recipe first.


The dish’s disputed legacy harks back to the moment of Partition. Moti Mahal claims that in the 1930s, leftover pieces of tandoori chicken at their original restaurant in Peshawar had been given a new lease of life by owner Kundan Lal Gujral, who cooked it in a decadent gravy of butter, tomatoes, cream and spices. It had amassed such a following of its own that when the Gujrals moved to India in 1947, butter chicken remained on the menu of their new outlet in Delhi’s Daryaganj, where they were joined by Kundan Lal Jaggi in the kitchen. Jaggi’s relatives, proprietors of Daryaganj restaurant, claim that this gives them trademark rights over the dish.


The fight over ownership is likely to linger on — the next hearing has been scheduled for May. But shorn of its commercial consequences, the dispute is an indication of the charged sentiments that food, especially as storied as butter chicken, with a fan following among prime ministers and visiting heads of states, actors and commoners, evokes. Family recipes and star dishes in restaurants rely equally on acts of collaboration and moments of inspiration in the kitchen. They signal a continuity of tradition, but also a hint of distinction that sets them apart, makes memories out of them. The butter chicken has long passed that test. It remains a legend. Does it really matter who got to it first?





January 27, 2024

Judgment Call

Institutions must be free of partisanship


Judiciary as a neutral interpreter of a country’s constitution provides coherence and continuity. So, it’s deeply worrying when judiciary or any institution begins to squabble on partisan lines.


Scenes from Kolkata | Calcutta HC saw a public spat between judges over a case, with one of them openly attributing political motives to another who handled the same issue. To make matters worse, the state’s attorney general also joined in, accusing a judge of bias. These incidents will damage the institution’s credibility and may influence the way verdicts of other judges are perceived. A five-judge SC bench will suo motu take up this judge vs judge development today.


States vs GOI | Worsening of equations between BJP and opposition administered states has seeped into relations between local police and enforcement agencies such as ED and CBI. In Bengal, ED officials were attacked by a mob. Relations between Tamil Nadu police and central agencies are at the lowest ebb in recent memory.


Via media | SC in a hearing on the differences between TN and ED suggested there must be a mechanism to offset the core reason for breakdown in trust. Institutions at both levels of government believe the other is partisan. There’s merit to the oral observation by SC. The hard part is designing a mechanism that can rebuild trust.


Under the same Constitution| We are in the midst of two worrisome trends. States administered by opposition parties tend to remove general consent to CBI to conduct investigations in their jurisdiction. Central agencies now prefer to be protected by paramilitary forces instead of local police when they conduct searches or raids.


India’s institutions need to be insulated from the conflicts within the political class. It’s a necessary condition for governing a large and complex country, for justice delivery. That’s a sobering lesson, especially since the country celebrated Republic Day yesterday.




January 27, 2024

Age Is Just A Number

What Rohan Bopanna’s great story is telling us


There’s aging and then there’s aging like fine wine. India’s 43-year-old Rohan Bopanna is set to be ranked No. 1 in doubles come Monday. Novak Djokovic, the 36-year-old Serb who is No. 1 in singles, has congratulated Bopanna tongue in cheek: “It’s amazing to do it at such a young age.”


Martina to Ronaldo| Williams sisters have also defied aging famously. Martina Navratilova scored a grand slam mixed doubles crown at 46! Christiano Ronaldo has hinted he wants to play the next football World Cup, and he will be 41 by then. LeBron James at 39 is still an NBA rock star. Their coaches aren’t blind to a decline in stats. But these golden boots help their team hit harder.


Money, mind, yoga | LeBron reportedly spends $1.5 million a year to keep his body playing at elite levels. Bopanna says he has “no cartilage” left in his knees but yoga has come to the rescue. But why would such fitness and focus create only a sports-wide revolution?


CEO un-retirement | Boeing changed its mandatory retirement policy to keep David Calhoun, then 64, in the pilot’s seat. Indian banks have seen long-running CEOs. James Dimon, 67, has been helming JPMorgan Chase since 2005. Throwing a business leader of proven vision and profitability overboard because of some long-ago-written retirement rule is irrational. More generally, today’s nutrition standards, health consciousness and science mean age is no ceiling on ability.





January 27, 2024

When Niche Gets a Mass-Market Push

But FMCGs need to adapt their supply response


Consumer goods companies are trying to bridge the growing gap between discretionary and essential spending. FMCG companies have used strong aspirational demand to cross-subsidise sales in the mass category as they negotiated a surge in inflation. Pricing power at the top end of their product portfolio is allowing them the flexibility to experiment with pack sizes to keep consumers from downtrading. Grammage in price-sensitive packages is being increased and bridge packs are being introduced to create pathways for volume growth. This is becoming even more critical for brand protection as smaller players regain pricing advantage during the commodity downcycle.


Yet, there are limits to their ability to retain market share. India’s post-pandemic recovery was led by producers passing through prices to consumers. This capacity has become sorely constrained now. The broader slowdown in consumption is catching up with FMCG companies so long as real wage growth remains negative. Inflation has to fall further, and stay there, for wage negotiations to become productive. The flow of credit to small enterprises, which generate most of the employment in the economy, will likewise have to accelerate for consumption to revive lower down the pyramid. These are demand-side factors that are beyond the supply response of FMCG companies.


Processes are underway, though. Inflation, apart from occasional spikes in food inflation, is headed for its target. Once there, it should stay put because the fiscal balance is, at the same time, being restored. Runaway credit growth to households has also been checked. This should divert capital towards producers, especially small businesses that have not deleveraged to the extent their bigger rivals have. The commodity cycle, too, does not face immediate triggers for a reversal. FMCG companies will have to adapt their supply response for some quarters more till volume growth stabilises. They have used demand instability to their advantage by shoring up supply chains and distribution channels.





January 27, 2024

Vive la Langue! Speak French, Go Places


La langue est une clé — language is a key. With French President Emmanuel Macron as chief guest on Friday at the Republic Day celebrations, talks of deepening the 25-year-long strategic partnership is de rigueur. Along with defence, cutting-edge technology and clean energy mitigation exchanges, the French language itself became a strategic tool at the granular, citizenry level. In this context, Macron’s announcement of plans to encourage Indians to pursue higher studies in France and to learn French is très bonne.


For Indians, French provides yet another passport to growing opportunities in the world — and a conduit for taking bits of India across the world adding to a growing Maha Akhand Bharat. Duolingo’s India Report Card 2022 found that French has the highest number of learners in India after English and Hindi. For Macron, growing interest among Indians in French touches on a project close to his heart. Relaunching French as the international language has been one of his prime cultural projects. Mastering French not only opens opportunities for Indians in France but in Belgium, Switzerland, parts of Canada and other Francophonic territories too.


Both Narendra Modi and Macron believe in reinvigorated multilateralism centred on multiple poles of power, institutions and engagements. India’s growing appetite for the French language, and Macron’s goal of 30,000 Indian students by 2030 in France, is such an engagement. It is in keeping with the DNA of the India-France relationship — leveraging national strengths for mutual benefit. Together, India and France can open growing opportunities for Indians while restoring French to its former glory as a language of diplomacy, business and innovation. Vive la langue!




January 27, 2024

GIFT proposition

Direct listing rules should be less stringent


It is heartening to see the Centre moving forward in letting Indian companies list directly on overseas exchanges. The framework released last week, to allow unlisted public companies to make issuances and list their shares on the two international exchanges in the GIFT IFSC (GIFT International Financial Services Centre), is a good first step. It should be followed by rules for allowing companies listed on domestic exchanges to simultaneously list on other overseas exchanges, including the GIFT (Gujarat International Finance-Tech) City.


This calibrated approach is the right way to move ahead, given the past mishaps involving similar permission given to Indian companies to tap global exchanges through the depository receipts route. That said, some of the rules in the framework are too stringent and could render this entire exercise ineffective. The first stage of this scheme is intended to help start-up companies provide an exit to their investors by listing on the exchanges in the GIFT City. This is a good idea since global investors are more open to investing in new technologies and ideas, which will help these companies get better valuation in the India offshore centre. The authorities seem intent on allowing only sound businesses to use this route. Only public companies not in violation of any domestic laws or rules, which have not defaulted on any loan, or debenture repayment in the preceding two years, have filed annual returns on time and have not made any application for winding up under the insolvency and bankruptcy code, can issue shares on international exchanges. While these rules are necessary, laying down that companies with negative networth cannot list overseas needs to be relaxed. Many start-up companies make losses in the initial years, eroding their networth. But the method of valuing start-ups is based on other metrics such as footfalls, website traffic, app downloads etc. Global investors may be ready to invest in such companies based on other metrics.


The rules also specify that neither resident Indians nor Indian mutual funds can invest in these issues or trade in these shares on GIFT City exchanges. The definition of ‘permissible holder’ who can invest in Indian companies listed on overseas exchanges is based on the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) Rules, 2019, which says that a permissible holder cannot be a person resident in India. This rule needs a relook, given that resident Indians will be eager to apply to issuances of Indian companies on the GIFT City exchanges using the funds allowed under the liberalised remittance scheme. Giving permission to Indian retail and mutual fund investors to participate in these issues will create the core investor pool necessary to attract global investors to the Indian offshore centre.


Despite multiple tax concessions, absence of currency risk and state-of-art infrastructure, activity on the two exchanges in the GIFT City is lacklustre. Allowing access to domestic investors could provide some impetus.





January 27, 2024

No Editorial



January 27, 2024

Visit, pray, grow

If planned well, religious tourism can be a force multiplier for many sectors of the economy


Hundreds of thousands of people thronging the Ram temple in Ayodhya within days of its opening is a sign of things to come. A recent Jefferies projection of the temple attracting 50 million tourists— the Vatican attracts 9 million and Mecca 20 million annually—could actually be the case in the years to come. Between 2022 and 2023, the number of annual visitors to Ayodhya is estimated to have risen by 10 million to over 30 million. So, it isn’t difficult to imagine the impetus that a brand new airport, a railway station that has got much beyond a mere facelift, marquee hospitality projects, improved road and digital connectivity are going to add.


Such pilgrimage premium may not just be an Ayodhya story. There is a concerted push to unlock the country’s faith-based tourism potential. Under the Centre’s ‘Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) scheme, which provides financial assistance for development of spiritually-important sites, a total of `1,629 crore has been sanctioned since 2014-15 for temples, shrines (including the Dargah Hazrat Bal in Kashmir, and infrastructure in Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, which is home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health), gurudwaras, etc, across 26 states and Union Territories. A further 26 have been identified.


These will be an important supplement to the states’ own projects. Beyond this, there are the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which aims to promote tourism in specific regions based on a theme, and the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) to preserve cultural and religious heritage in popular heritage tourism destinations. But the most important push perhaps comes from the connectivity and other infrastructure projects to allow the masses to easily reach spiritual destinations. Whether it is the NHAI’s `12,000-crore Char Dham highway project in Uttarakhand—though there are concerns over ecology and topography—or the `2,500 crore allocated by the Uttar Pradesh government for infrastructure development in Prayagraj for the 2025 Mahakumbh, spiritual tourism has never had it so big. According to ministry of tourism data, religious tourism is expected to generate 140 million temporary and permanent jobs by 2030.


India has 42 Unesco heritage sites, and most of these are religious centres. And spiritual tourism has the largest share within overall tourism in the country. While overall tourism in terms of revenue and number of tourists has seen a robust recovery from the pandemic-time lows, it is yet to reach the pre-pandemic level. But that seems certain to change with the push to spiritual tourism. One estimate projects the country’s faith-based tourism market to grow at a CAGR of 16.2% from 2023 to 2030.


Sustained world-class infrastructure, hospitality, and a hospitable local population, would be among the key challenges. While the first two are easier to resolve, the third would need continuous sensitisation efforts at the local level and mass awareness drives. That is where the states would have to put their best foot forward. Another, though much more ambitious, vision outlined in a recent SBI Ecowrap report is to develop strategic partnerships for faith-based tourism in other nations in the sub-continent and South East Asia that have shared cultural links.  The revival and restoration of heritage spiritual sites, then, would not just earn rich dividends for the economy by itself, but also be a force multiplier for other segments, from aviation to hospitality.




January 27, 2024

Has McKinsey become unleadable?


MCKINSEY HAS GROWN even bigger in recent years and employs some 45,000 people. Yet the world’s most renowned management consultancy still has a relatively flat organisational structure, and the partner at the helm is more first-among-equals than a conventional chief executive officer.


The 750 senior partners go through potentially three voting rounds seeking a winner with simple majority support. That didn’t happen at the first stage this time, the Financial Times reported Monday. That’s awkward for incumbent Bob Stemfels. He came to the role after a three-rounder in 2021, when his predecessor Kevin Sneader failed to secure a second term. It’s notable that the partners are again hesitant about the continuity candidate.


Sneader and Stemfels both made decisions that proved unpopular in some quarters. Sneader’s task was to lead the firm’s response to its involvement in a corruption scandal in South Africa and then to the intense public, political and legal furore surrounding its work advising the pharmaceutical industry on how to “turbocharge” sales of opioids. He imposed greater controls on client vetting, while agreeing to costly legal settlements. Partners accustomed to acting with autonomy and little oversight have since faced heightened scrutiny.


Stemfels has continued the investment in compliance while cutting 1,400 back-and middle-office positions elsewhere. Headcount reductions should ultimately boost the partner profit share, but big cutbacks are never a good look. And if McKinsey had become bloated, Stemfels can’t easily distance himself from criticism given he was closely involved in operational management before getting the top role.


Now consider the challenges Me Kinsey’s leader has to deal with once in the job.


The priority is still inculcating a culture that prevents partners doing business they shouldn’t, so that compliance is the last line of defence. On top, there are other fundamental questions about McKinsey’s governance and what it exists to do. The client base for management consulting has gotten wiser. It used to be easy to impress CEOs by telling them things they didn’t know. Put a team of ambitious junior consultants in the client’s facilities for a few weeks and they’d give their supervising partner the ammunition for a slick presentation showing the granular profitability of individual products and where easy savings could be made .Or they’d establish that returns would be much higher if only the firm’s widget factories were repurposed as data centers. Mix with a few insights on industry trends, and executives doubtless felt that consultants helped them make, take and justify difficult decisions — all in 25 slides.


Big corporations have their own strategy departments, likely staffed by former partners from McKinsey or rivals Boston Consulting Group or Bam & Co. CEOs may still need external validation for radical departures or painful cuts, but boards aren’t so easy to wow these days. Perhaps that explains why management consulting has expanded sideways into new geo graphic markets or accepted more so-called “implementation” work, the hands-on job of, say, reconfiguring customer billing processes.


Of course, there’s still demand for help with knotty questions—how to respond to a pandemic or the threat of AI, and how to secure supply chains amid geopolitical tension, to name a few examples. But even on these, the big three firms face pressure from more specialised boutiques. Meanwhile, there are emerging cultural challenges. A new generation of graduates is pushing back on working 24/7 —a direct challenge to a model that harnesses keen, bright young staffers to do the long hours of legwork underpinning a partner’s PowerPoint.


Above all, McKinsey is getting very big for a supposedly non-hierarchical institution. Headcount is about 60% higher than it was in 2018, and the senior partner ranks have swelled by more the one-third. Today it must feel more like a conventional multinational corporation than the close-knit partnership it started out as. Pushback on the re-appointment of the incumbent leaders shows that the problems of maturity aren’t easily managed by consensus. Whoever wins the current election needs to show both that McKinsey is leadable, and that they can lead it.



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