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 few months have been event-filled and eventful at Brigade Group. In June, we successfully bid for a prime property of Hindustan Unilever and have taken private equity, for the first time, from the very reputed and huge sovereign fund of Government of Singapore (GIC). July saw the successful launch of Value+ Homes at Brigade Orchards, Devanahalli. To name a few more of the many significant events that took place in this period: we opened a representative office in Silicon Valley, through a tie up with Legion Real Estate; Orion Mall went into top gear with events; and another round of successful property exhibitions—Brigade Showcases—were held across India and abroad.
CREDAI, the industry body, recognising Brigade Gateway as the Best Integrated Township and WTC as The Best Commercial Office Space in the country is the icing on the cake. I thank the leading industry magazine,Construction World, for their editorial decision to bring out a special supplement on Brigade Gateway. When the editors visited Brigade Gateway, they were so impressed with the project that they took an instantaneous decision to feature it in a supplement!
IT feels good to get the recognition of Great Place to Work Institute for the second year in a row. Our standing has improved. On the subject of Brigadiers, I am amazed at the wealth of cultural talent in Brigade Group, which was wonderfully evidenced in the Annual Culture Fest.
PEOPLE in the know say that most western economies—the USA and Europe—are recovering. The gloom and doom of last couple of years should soon be over. But unfortunately, our country and state are continuing to witness political chaos and rudderless governance. With a billion-plus population and huge internal market, there was no need for India to be in this position after many years of 8%+ growth. It is a self-inflicted injury; the result of carelessness, complacency and lack of vision and thought for the future. I heard in a talk given by Singapore's Urban Development Minister last year at the CREDAI Annual Convention that after their Independence in 1965, the vision of the Singapore government was to make Singapore like our Calcutta! (Yes, one may feel it difficult to believe this!) Singapore’s current situation shows what one can achieve with proper vision and a desire to do good for the country.
As if adding insult to injury, many parts of Karnataka are facing drought. The weather pattern across the globe seems to have drastically changed, making meteorological predictions that much more difficult. Care for the environment should be the top agenda for any city, state or country.
THE demand for housing continues to be healthy, but is becoming more segmented. Still, there is a crisis of confidence in the way the economy will shape up in the months ahead. Top level changes in the finance ministry at the centre are expected to bring some cheer, after all the policy damage created in the last one year.
THE festival season has begun. It gives reason for people to forget the tough realities of life and celebrate with their near and dear ones. We wish you the very best for the festival season.