Half of calendar year 2023 is over. Unfortunately, there isn’t much ‘feel good’ news in the world, except in India, Middle East & few countries in Southeast Asia.
The mindless war between Russia & Ukraine continues. Other than helping clear the stockpile of weapons in few western economies & securing billions of dollars of fresh orders for manufacture of weapons, it has only resulted in destroying large areas in Ukraine & displacing millions of its citizens. The war resulted in much of Europe to go into recession. From a unipolar world with United States ruling the roost since the disintegration of USSR during 1991-92, the world is getting back to a bipolar world with the 2nd largest economy of the world, the communist China supporting Russia.
While politically the world has become bipolar again, economically countries have become more interdependent than ever before due to globalisation & WTO policies. This is posing a huge challenge to different economies, particularly to the United States and to the countries in Europe.
The Indian Government has played its cards smartly. Our country is beginning to see the benefit of China+1 strategy of the developed economies, not only for sourcing their product requirements, but also because they see India as a good investment destination. This has greatly helped the Indian economy to become resilient and not be affected so far by the war in Ukraine. The best indicator is the stupendous increase in Sensex & Nifty indices and Indian foreign exchange reserves crossing US$ 600 billion again. Many senior bankers feel that for the 1st time after many many years, all sectors of business are doing well. One can only hope this good show sustains for a longer time thereby helping Indian GDP reach US$ 5 trillion, sooner than later. The spoil sport can be poor monsoon, interest rate increase and unexpected events like political turmoil.
The ruling party at the centre got the shock of its life by badly losing State Elections in Karnataka. The smart electorate of Karnataka has punished the unexpected poor performance of the previous Government, apart from succumbing to the lure of multiple freebies offered by the winning party. While this has invigorated the opposition parties against the ruling party at the centre, it has also made the 2024 parliamentary elections more unpredictable. Anything can happen. What India requires is political stability and retaining its position in the world order & the goodwill generated during the past few years. What all this means to the business is the question? Uncertainty to a great extent. One never knows when the current positive sentiments will start turning negative, though there is absolutely no indication at present.
The Residential Real Estate sector is continuing to grow in a healthy way. Financial year 2023 is the best so far for the sector. The WFH/ A (work from home/ anywhere) culture continuing in a big way in USA & Europe has created millions of square feet of vacant office space in those countries, which has resulted in cautious approach by Indian & MNC companies in the tech sector to sign up new office space. Most experts feel this could be a cyclical and temporary phenomena. The good news is many MNC companies are increasing the size of their GCCs (Global Capability Centres) in India as a way to cut costs by offshoring work thereby helping to retain/ improve their profitability. This is the saving grace for the Indian Office Real Estate sector. The data localisation policy of the Indian Government has also resulted in increased demand for Data Centres. So also, the growing organised retail business has increased the demand for Fulfilment Centres/ Warehouses.
In such a macro environment, Brigade is trying to play its cards well but carefully. We have made headway in increasing our presence in Chennai significantly. We are trying to do the same in the highly competitive real estate market of Hyderabad.
While a number of new launches are slated in this financial year, obtaining civic authorities approvals is becoming more challenging than ever before, for a variety of reasons. By adhering to the multiple rules, administrative procedures and after overcoming red tape, if one succeeds in real estate business in India, they deserve to receive accolades and a pat on their back.
Rightly, the new Congress Government in Karnataka is talking of ‘Brand Bengaluru’ – to improve the image of the city which has taken a beating due to severe traffic congestion, insufficient infrastructure planning & implementation. Bengaluru deserves much better treatment by the State Govt.
Bengaluru, which contributes more than 50% of the tax revenue of the State; should receive similar share in the expenditure budget of the State to improve its infrastructure. Bengaluru is not just a city of Karnataka, it is now a Global City, known for innovation and home to 100s of MNCs.
Hyderabad with its superior infrastructure is already breathing down Bengaluru‘s neck and sure to overtake Bengaluru as an attractive investment destination, if the Karnataka Government continues to be complacent.
The advent of ChatGPT & AI (Artificial Intelligence) into our lives, slowly but surely, will have a profound effect, not fathomed by us so far. It will become a necessary evil in the years ahead. While there would be demand for people with new skills, it may also lead to thousands of job losses. So, it is very important for people and businesses to gear up the skills to keep pace with the ever changing technological advancements.
The festival season is approaching. My warm season's greeting to all our readers.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
Having entered our 25th year of operations, after a lot of internal deliberations, I am happy to release the organisation’s Shared Vision and Mission statements and Core Values. This should stand in good stead for the decade ahead and give Brigadiers a clear sense of direction, enabling them to work with a unified sense of purpose and to achieve set goals and objectives. Every Brigadier has to remember and constantly remind oneself of Brigade Group’s core values and ensure these shared values are not compromised in any way.
Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, which had its soft opening in mid-March, has received very encouraging feedback from guests and industry professionals. This well-appointed 230-room, 5-star deluxe hotel with six F&B outlets and a 1000-seater banquet hall, is bound to be amongst the best hotels in Bangalore, and will be the pre-eminent Sheraton Hotel in the country. General Manager Martin Wuethrich from Switzerland and Executive Chef Gustavo Maurelli from Italy will bring their international expertise to lead Sheraton Bangalore in the path of success.
It is a fantastic achievement by the Indian Cricket Team to have won the ODI World Cup, after a gap of 28 years. It is very difficult to live up to expectations, having been the favourites to win the Cup. The credit undoubtedly goes to the players for their outstanding teamwork, superb leadership of Captain Dhoni and Coach Kirsten, and performing when it mattered most in the knock-out stage. Many analogies can be drawn to the corporate world from the strategies adopted in winning the Cup.
India’s 2011 provisional census figures, indicating a population of 1.2 billion+, is certainly a cause for worry, and not celebration. Speedy urbanisation is a matter of great concern to city planners. Meeting the infrastructural needs of the growing population will be a huge, daunting task. Our planners have to work overtime to ensure that demand for space and services are met, if one has to stop proliferation of slums in urban centres. There is a great need to decentralise growth by ensuring development of each and every district and taluk centre.
The Karnataka State and Central budgets for 2011 have been passed. Unfortunately, policies and tax rates are being tinkered with frequently, leading to confusion and a loss of direction to the business community. Real Estate hardly finds favour with the tax authorities. A few examples: in Karnataka, stamp duty rates on Joint Development Agreements have been increased by an unbelievable proportion and the VAT applicability principle in the construction industry has changed to compound the confusion. In the Centre, tax exemption to SEZ units is withdrawn by imposing MAT; Service Tax is imposed for hospitality business … the list goes on and on.
Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign was much needed and, hopefully, will serve as an eye opener to the government and corrupt people. The spontaneous response to Anna’s fast from all sections of society was most encouraging and heartwarming. High corruption in society is what is coming in the way of India’s planned and sustained growth, and stopping the country moving from good to great. If people’s simmering discontent about corruption in every sphere of life is to be avoided, fast and inclusive development across the country is the only answer. Otherwise, Egypt’s Tahrir Square kind of situation is not far off in our country. If one determined Narendra Modi and one determined Nitish Kumar can make so much of a difference in Gujarat and Bihar, imagine what a small battalion of such people could do to the growth of India. By showing honesty and progress, if Nitish Kumar can get 80%+ seats in the Assembly (highest ever by any party in any state in the country since elections came to be held), why don’t other politicians realise good development will ensure re-election and continuance in power?
Let us hope for the best!