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.
How things dramatically change in a very short time! The three very significant developments in the last few weeks are:
S&P downgrading Credit Rating of United States from AAA to AA+ and the resultant turmoil in world financial markets;
Central Government’s clueless and immature response to Anna Hazare's movement against corruption;
Dramatic collapse of performance of Indian Cricket Team—from World Champion status to school boys team level.
All were avoidable and self-inflicted; due to complacency, arrogance and politics. But all the developments have shaken the world / country / establishment. It would take quite a while for normalcy to set in.
India was on the path of recovery from the recessionary conditions of 2008-2010, till inflation within the country and multiple scams involving thousands of crores were unearthed. Naturally, an anti-corruption movement is required to cleanse the system, at least to some extent. While corruption is a worldwide problem and existing probably from the time civilization started, it has reached mind boggling and dangerous proportions in our country, which is bound to destroy us if not tackled now. I hope and pray a positive outcome will emerge from the spontaneous, tremendous and voluntary support the Anna Hazare movement has received.
From the beginning of 2011, the mood in the real estate sector was one of optimism, which was expected to turn to bullishness. Unfortunately, due to the macro economic factors plaguing the world, cautiousness has set in. High interest rates have not helped the mood at all. I hope and wish there will not be any worsening of global factors and ratings. Due to the inherent strength of the Indian economy and latent unsatisfied demand of the past 3-4 years, pessimism is unlikely to set in.
Tourism is one industry which can have a far reaching positive impact on any economy and will help in generating employment in the unorganised sector for the uneducated class. Statistics of just Singapore and Hong Kong make startling revelations. Singapore, with its 5 million population (size less than Bangalore), attracts 12.5 million tourists (2.5 times its population). Hong Kong, with its 7 million population, attracts 36 million tourists (5 times its population). Whereas, India, with 1.2 billion population, gets only 5 million tourists, i.e., a dismal 0.05%. China gets 56 million tourists and earns USD 185 billion a year (about the same as the entire annual export earnings of India). India has the potential to earn at least USD 100 billion (if not more) in a year, provided proper strategic actions are taken by the Central and State Governments to improve infrastructure and tourist friendliness. India has many, many more tourist sites than China.
I am delighted to mention that Brigade has received 3 important awards in the last 4 months:
‘Economic Times’, in association with ‘Great Places to Work Institute’, rated Brigade Group as the 2nd best company to work for in the Real Estate Sector, and also as 88 among all companies in the country.
‘CNBCAwaaz–CRISIL–CREDAI’ selected our Integrated Township Project, Brigade Metropolis on Whitefield Road, as the Best Residential Project 2010 in South India.
‘Construction World’ rated us amongst the Top 10 Builders in the country for the 5th consecutive time, in a perception survey in which developers, financial institutions, architects and vendors, across the country participated.
The festival season has started. I hope it brings cheer to the Indian economy and joy to its citizens.