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Founder's Message

Founder
MR M.R. JAISHANKAR
CMD
jaishankar-cmd

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.

 

ARCHIVE INDEX
"A few thoughts…" is a column that our CMD Mr M.R. Jaishankar writes regularly for our house journal Brigade Insight. A few of his columns are reproduced here."
December 2010

In the last few months, the country has been riddled with scams which have shaken the confidence of people. Whatever little hope we may have had of an improvement in the moral fabric of our society has gone with the wind. Cynics have won over optimists. We have also been bombarded with WikiLeaks and the Radia tapes expose—which has not helped in improving the mood of the public.

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The saving grace in an otherwise bleak scenario is Sachin Tendulkar's 50th test century in cricket. The master blaster has brought tremendous joy to millions of people, making him worthy of consideration for the Bharat Ratna—our nation's highest civilian honour. It is ridiculous to go on debating whether Sachin is better than Don Bradman. In my opinion, both are 'greats' in their era. We should leave it at that. We should now look forward to Sachin completing 100 centuries in International Cricket. Just four more to go and he should surely do it.

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It feels wonderful to know that our WTC building is the 'Best Commercial Project of the Year 2010' in the entire country. The vision of—and meticulous planning by—the entire team has contributed to making Brigade Gateway (of which WTC Bangalore is a part) a unique and one-of-its-kind project…not just in Bangalore, but in the country and most probably in the entire world. To the best of my knowledge, there is no project in an urban centre anywhere in the world with all the components of Brigade Gateway: club, hotel, hospital, mall, offices, residences and a school.

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In September, I was part of the State delegation, led by the Chief Minister, to the World Economic Forum (referred to as the Summer Davos) at Tianjin, China. It is mind boggling to see the fast pace of infrastructure development that China is going through. Their future plans are beyond the imagination of most countries and their determination to excel in anything they put their mind to, has to be seen to be believed. Apart from true appreciation, one can get jealous of their development; get depressed with the lack of similar progress in our country, though we have the opportunity and potential; and also get scared at the might of our big brother neighbour who is breathing down our neck.

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Brigade Group completed 24 years of existence on 10 October 2010! As we enter our 25th year, we are gearing up to launch 25 new projects-big, medium and a few small ones-apart from completing some of the ongoing projects in early 2011.

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As we look back, there is a certain amount of satisfaction … which gives us the determination to work hard for a brighter future and to create a 'better quality of life' for our customers, who are the bread and butter of our business..

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Wishing you Seasons Greetings and a very happy, peaceful and prosperous 2011.



August 2010

The most significant development of the last quarter is securing the license/franchise to rebrand our office building in Brigade Gateway as World Trade Center! With this, we join the elite group of 29 to own WTC buildings worldwide. WTC is the most recognised and sought-after business address anywhere in the world. WTC Bangalore is the tallest building in Bangalore (435 feet) with many unique features, including—for the first time in Bangalore—an observation deck. It should be operational in a few months. It is a proud and positive development for Brigade Group, the city of Bangalore and the State of Karnataka..

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It feels good to find a place among the Top Ten Builders in the country, in the perception survey conducted by Construction World, the most circulated construction industry magazine in the country. What is particularly nice is that we may be the only developer in the country to be nominated for the award for four consecutive years (2007-2010), from the time the awards were instituted five years ago.

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India’s GDP growth is right on track by achieving 8.8% growth, against the estimated 8.5%, in Q1 of 2010-11. While we have become a trillion dollar economy after 63 years of independence, due to our billion+ population, our per capita income is just over a thousand dollars—way behind the populous Indonesia and even our small neighbour, Sri Lanka, till recently a strife ridden country. While considerable progress is happening in the development of infrastructure in the country, it is always short of what is needed for the long-suffering population and India’s fast growing economy. The country has too many major problems to tackle—be it high corruption, whose tentacles are far reaching and growing by the day; terrorism in Kashmir; Maoist/Naxalite insurgency in Eastern India; increasing religious radicals even in Southern India; and, most importantly, the growing influence of China in Pak-occupied Kashmir and Sri Lanka. The answer lies in bringing prosperity to the population, thereby reducing the influence of extremist elements. From this angle, the motto of the WTCA (World Trade Centers Association, New York) is quite apt: to bring prosperity through trade; and peace through prosperity.

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The much-awaited direct taxes Code Bill, which promised to bring far reaching reforms in tax administration, turned out to be a damp squib. A mountain was promised; but a mole is given. The so-called simplified version is 405 pages long! Tax consultants and advocates will have a feast, for the next few years, from the confusion it creates and the clarifications to be given by the Tribunals and Courts. Businessmen and industrialists will end up spending even more time in non-productive work.

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KPL-2 (Karnataka Premier League) Cricket season will be held from September 16th to 30th. While the KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) did well in pioneering the State Premier League concept in the country, it has fallen short in publicising, popularising and managing the event well. Their present efforts are not adding value to the franchisees. I hope the young bunch of Bangalore Brigadiers will better last year’s performance of reaching the semi-finals.

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The Galaxy Club at Brigade Gateway is ready and looking beautiful. It is a boon to the campus occupants and its members. The same goes for The Brigade School @ Malleswaram, in the Brigade Gateway enclave, started by our Not-for-Profit Brigade Foundation. The school has received a very enthusiastic response from the neighbourhood in its very first year.

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At last, our efforts to start projects in Hyderabad are on track. Our maiden project, Brigade Zenith, will soon be launched in the up-market Banjara Hills.

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I am happy and thankful to the Board of Directors for instituting a ‘Chair’ at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to do research in the field of Construction Technology and Project Management. It will be in memory of our late Independent Director, Dr T. N. Subba Rao, who was always forthcoming with ideas and advice in the interest of Brigade Group.

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The festival season is on with Ramzan, Ganesha Chaturthi, Dasara and Deepavali—all in the next ten weeks. I wish our readers happy celebration and a wonderful festival season ahead.



May 2010

The Completion of Brigade Gateway Residential Block is a major milestone achieved. While significant completion has happened, the snag rectification of individual apartments and overall fine tuning is a challenging process, requiring great care and patience. The Brigade Gateway campus is looking better and better as it moves towards total completion. The Brigade School will open in June 2010. The Galaxy Club should open in a couple of months. WTC Bangalore, Orion Mall and Sheraton Bangalore Hotel are also getting ready. As far as I know, Brigade Gateway is the most integrated enclave in an urban centre anywhere in the world! The total integration of residential with offices, retail, hotel, medical, educational and recreational facilities within the city, is unprecedented. The convenience of living in such an environment will truly be a great experience.

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While the Indian economy has shown stability, it is getting affected by the shaky European economy. Mounting debt in Greece, Portugal, Spain and even Italy has started creating a ripple effect. I hope the governments in EU countries won’t let another 2008 kind of situation happen.

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Central and State Budgets of 2010 have come and gone without giving any relief on applicability of multiple taxes to the same real estate transaction. India could be the only country with the dubious distinction of treating purchase of a property under construction from a developer as: firstly, ‘transfer of property’ attracting stamp duty; secondly, as Sale of Goods under VAT rules; and, to make matters worse, as a Service under the Central Government Service Tax Rules. The desire to get revenue has made the authorities/law makers blind, with the result, citizens have to live with this unfair tax treatment.

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Brigade Group is trying to launch a number of new projects in all segments and categories—residential, office, retail and hospitality. But the procedures and the need to meet more and more rules and get permissions is making the process very cumbersome and time consuming…resulting in an increase in overhead costs, which negatively impacts on the product price.

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Our Mercure Homestead Residences will soon be rebranded as ‘Grand Mercure’ (a higher rated brand of Accor Hotels worldwide). Our Mercure property recently received an award—from the globally recognised Hospitality Consultants, HVS—for Best New Hotel in South Asia in the Serviced Apartment category! To cap this, the Ministry of Tourism has also given a 5-star rating for Mercure Homestead Residences.

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It is heartening to get recognized again by the well-known Realty Plus magazine as the Best Regional Developer (Residential) in 2010 for the Southern Region. So also by Construction Source India as the Best Developer in Residential Infrastructure.

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In the next few months, Brigade will concentrate on total completion of its many projects which are in final stages and sale/lease of balance stock of residential, office and retail units—apart from making persistent efforts to create new stock quickly. I look forward to continued support and patronage from our clients for our new launches.



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