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.
APRIL 21, 2012 was a red letter day for Brigade Group—the day that Orion Mall was completed. What sets this day apart as an especially significant milestone in our history is that it marks not just the completion of the mall, but, more importantly, the completion of an iconic project: Brigade Gateway. Both the enclave as a whole, and the individual components within it—Orion Mall, World Trade Center, Sheraton Hotel, Galaxy Club, The Brigade School, Columbia Asia Hospital—have set new standards in development. Brigade Gateway has set benchmarks for others to follow. The Orion Mall launch event itself was considered by many to be the best product launch ever in Bangalore. This milestone, coupled with shifting of our Corporate Office to WTC @ Brigade Gateway, should be considered a new chapter in the life of the organisation..
Sheraton Bangalore Hotel @ Brigade Gateway received a coveted recognition at the annual HICSA Conference of HVS: as Best New 5 Star Upscale Hotel in South Asia in 2011. What is significant and very satisfying is that our Mercure Homestead Serviced Residences (now Grand Mercure) won a similar award in the Apartment Hotel category in 2009, making both of our hotel properties the 'best in class'.
As they do every year, the Central and State budgets, in the first quarter, bring new taxes and reliefs. While the Karnataka budget was thankfully mild, giving relief by way of reduced Stamp Duties, the same cannot be said about the Central budget. Excise Duties and Service Tax was increased substantially, adding to inflation when the government is talking of reducing it! While 50 basis points interest reduction by RBI is a positive step, it is insufficient to boost the industry and trade sentiment. It is to be hoped that a further reduction in interest rates will be announced soon.
Finance ministry’s flip-flop policies in taxation, particularly with retrospective effect, has sent a scare to foreign investors affecting fresh FDI into the country. Retrograde legislations like GAAR will only make matters worse. The country has to stop the 1-step-forward-and-2-steps-backward approach to development issues.
The mood among industrialists and businessmen continues to be subdued, with not many positive signals or developments seen in the national and international scene. With all the efforts being made by the European leaders, one is not sure whether the debt crisis bothering Europe (and, in turn, the world) is over.
The power crises in the mid-90s prompted both central and state governments to launch many power sector projects, which helped improve the situation over the past ten years. Then complacency set in and most states are back to a power-starved situation. Power sector policy paralysis has only worsened the outlook for relief in the near term, which is bound to have an adverse effect on GDP growth. The not-so-encouraging monsoon prediction will be a matter of concern to all.
A study by the National Housing Bank, published in Times of India on 21 April, says that real estate prices in Namma Bengaluru have been one of the slowest to rise during the last five years, in comparison to other cities. For the most part, Bangalore rates have remained at what they were in 2007. This should make buyers act fast in making their investment decisions, which, in turn, will bring some cheer to the developers.