This issue is coming after a gap of one year. The April issue could not be released due to the 2nd wave of the pandemic and the connected lockdown.
People’s perceptions and attitudes toward life and work have changed a lot over the last 17 months. People and businesses who were able to adapt to the fast changes encountered, have flourished. Those who could not, have unfortunately perished. The impact of the 2nd wave was quite severe on the personal lives of millions of Indians. More than 32 million people contracted the Wuhan Virus and unfortunately, 430 thousand people have died in our country. Worldwide figures: 207 million affected & nearly 4.4 million people have passed away.
The numbers are only growing by the day, even though multiple vaccines are available. For 7,800 million people to be vaccinated twice, it can take another year or two. Luckily, more than 500 million Indians have been administered at least one dose of the vaccine. As a result, if there is a third wave of the virus, the impact is likely to be less severe than the earlier 2 waves. Only time will tell. But, as individuals, one needs to strictly follow all precautions as recommended by the health authorities for their own good.
During these uncertain times, Brigade was able to sail through the troubled waters reasonably well. While our Hospitality and Retail segments were badly affected, the Residential real estate business performed remarkably well by posting the highest sales since the inception of the Group in October 1986. Office leasing sentiments are also affected quite a bit, although the Indian software sector has had exceptional times due to their sheer resilience and ability to keep up their commitments to clients.
The concept of life and work has also undergone tremendous change. Work From Home (WFH) in the financial and technology sectors is a shining example of success, wherever remote working is possible. E-commerce has made life convenient to the technologically savvy population. It has already revolutionised the retail shopping sector. It will have a big impact in the years ahead on the traditional ‘Kirana’ stores and even Shopping Malls. Lockdowns to contain COVID-19 have reinforced the importance of owning a ‘roof over one’s head’, that too a comfortable, spacious one. With reduced expenditure & increased personal savings due to lockdowns, and real estate developers coming up with attractive price & payment schemes, the affordability factor has increased at all levels, resulting in improved demand for housing. This has been the saving grace for developers. Even with all the challenges faced during the last 17 months, we have been able to complete 15 projects with an area of 12.40 million square feet, including our marquee project, World Trade Center (WTC) Chennai. During the same period, we launched 14 projects with an area of 11.30 million square feet including Brigade Citadel in Hyderabad, and Brigade Residences at WTC Chennai.
A feather in the cap is the recognition by the international body, Great Place to Work Institute in association with the Economic Times, for the 11th year in a row - placing Brigade amongst the Top 100 Best Places to Work in the Country - the only real estate developer in the country to receive such an honour. Despite inadequate support to business and industry by the Central & State Government, the Indian Corporate Sector has shown a lot of resilience, thereby presumably, helping wipe out the 7.5% negative GDP of 2020. Good monsoon across the country, in general, has played its part. But the concerns of MSME sectors and small businesses remain. This means by the end of March 2022, India’s financial position may get back to March 2020 status. With the loss of 2 valuable years of growth, it would be a miracle of sorts if our country can reach the targeted GDP of 5 trillion USD by 2024-25. Reaching the USD 5-7 trillion mark is essential for the country. This will ensure that per capita income goes up to USD 4-5k from the present USD 2k. Only when the per capita income goes beyond USD 4-5k, can the MIG population hope to have good disposable income, which in turn will give a boost for the next stage of growth. This would be very similar to what happened in China over the last 20 years. The Central Government has taken up several structural reforms during the past couple of years to help the Indian industry grow and at the same time supporting the farmers and the poorer sections of the society. One hopes these structural reforms will start yielding results soon. Stock indices of BSE & NSE have gone through the roof on this expectation. FII & SIP fund inflows have added fuel to the fire.
With this hope, as we enter the 75th year of Independence, we can expect ‘Tomorrow to be brighter than Today’.
Wishing our readers good health and safety.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
The last 7-8 months have been the most challenging in this millennium. Economies the world over have been badly affected. Relatively speaking, India is less affected than the western economies and countries whose GDP is exportdependent. Indian exports comprise less than 20% of our GDP, as compared to 40% in the case of China and about 60% in the case of East Asian economies like Japan. Though, by and large, India is perceived as less dynamic and aggressive during the boom time, in the present circumstances, the country would be classified as conservative, wise and not greedy. Probably, the same rationale is applicable to Brigade Group also.
When will the economy recover to its previous glory? In my opinion, not in the immediate future, although one can say with reasonable confidence that the worst is behind us. There are several predictions that in 6–18 months, there will be a marked improvement in the world economy. A lot will depend on the US, which is the world’s largest economy, with its GDP 14 times bigger than India and with less than 30% of the population of our country.
The response by the developed countries to the global recession has been swift and substantial, which has helped in preventing the ‘recession’ from becoming a ‘depression’. Other than reduction of interest rates by 2-3%, the Indian government hasn’t taken many positive steps, as compared to say China, which is pumping in USD 250 billion+ to stimulate their economy. The biggest impetus to the Indian economy seems to come from unexpected quarters—parliamentary elections! An estimated Rs 10-15,000 crores is likely to be spent before 31 May. One shudders to think what kind of a fractured coalition of parties will come to govern us soon. We should all pray for a stable and progressive government at the centre.
As regards interest rates, since the inflation has been brought to under 1%, there seems to be tremendous scope and opportunity to bring it down further—at least by 2%. Interest rates should always be a function of inflation rate and GDP growth rate.
The welcome news is that Swiss banks and banks in other tax havens are willing to announce the names of the account holders. If the billions of dollars stashed away by corrupt businessmen, officials and politicians comes back to our country, it will be the biggest stimulus package we would receive to revive the economy.
Negative sentiments are on the downward mode, as can be gauged by the 50% jump in stock sensex in the last 2 months. But one can never be sure whether it is due to technical reasons and manipulations by the operators, or due to improved fundamentals of the companies. Even the real estate business has shown good signs of recovery from March onwards, though it is one of the last sectors to recover since the decision to acquire a property can always be postponed. But, a smart investor will treat the current situation as an opportunity to pickup good properties at reasonable rates. For those who missed the bus in 2002-04, this is the right time to buy.
As for NRIs, they cannot ask for more. It is a golden opportunity, what with the rupee depreciating by 25% in value against dollar (compared to January ‘08) and property prices having come down between 15-25%, depending on projects. Fence sitters are bound to regret it, if they don’t act now.
Brigade Group achieved a major milestone on 4 April ’09, with the opening of its 4-star serviced residences, with the internationally reputed Accor Group managing the co-branded property: Mercure Homestead. The positive feedback on the quality of rooms, F & B, and facilities like gym, spa and swimming pool is heartwarming.
June ‘09 will also see the opening of a second school—The Brigade International School—by Brigade Group’s not-for-profit trust, the Brigade Foundation. It is a boon for the residents of Whitefield and surrounding areas to get quality education with great infrastructure and convenience at a reasonable fee structure.
Team Brigade is making all efforts to quickly complete our flagship projects—Brigade Metropolis, Whitefield Road and Brigade Gateway, Malleswaram-Rajajinagar—which are in an advanced stage of execution. So also Brigade Courtyard in HMT Township, Brigade Palmsprings in J.P. Nagar, and Brigade Solitaire and Brigade Citadel in Mysore. I thank all our customers for showing their confidence, patience and support.