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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 2013

THE hot news, transformational in nature, which is on everyone’s mind, is the kind of electorate support the Aam Aadmi Party received in the Delhi Assembly elections. One could see the freshness of their approach, genuineness in their statements and a desire for change by the citizens of Delhi. I only hope and wish AAP succeeds in administration, if they agree to form the government.

****

Very unfortunately, in the last few years, the Indian economy has lost direction and has slid in importance and stature in the world economy. The only possibility of regaining the lost credibility would be to have a strong leadership and a stable government which cares for the nation and its people. I hope the April-May 2014 elections will bring such a government in to the Parliament.

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In the last two to three months, the Central Government has taken some positive policy steps, though only after getting pushed against the wall. Investors, always eager for positive news, have lapped it up. The silver lining, of course, is the appointment of a very forward looking and intelligent RBI Governor—Mr Raghuram Rajan.

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Brigade Cosmopolis on Whitefield Main Road, our joint venture residential apartment project with GIC (Govt of Singapore Investment Corporation), was launched in October. It has been very well received by customers. Brigade Symphony on KRS Road in Mysore, a well planned residential project with plentiful amenities and large open spaces, has received a similarly satisfying response.

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The first phase of our large Affordable Value Homes project—Brigade Meadows, next to Art of Living in South Bangalore—is nearing completion. It is good to know that CNBC Awaaz has recognised the project as the 'Best' in its category. This should auger well for the launch of the second phase, to begin shortly.

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Brigade Group has recently introduced ESOPs (Employee Stock Options), to begin with, to its middle- and senior-level managers. It is probably the first initiative of its kind among Real Estate Developers in the country and one hopes it helps in motivating the staff to perform better.

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I am glad Mr Aroon Raman, Wharton educated industrialist and fiction writer, has joined the Board of Brigade Enterprises Ltd as an Independent Director, in place of the late Dr A. Ramakrishna. The Group will surely benefit from his guidance and support.

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Our corporate philanthropic support to the Centre for Indian Music Experience or IME (an interactive museum of music coming up in South Bangalore) is certainly helping to speed up project completion. The base building was unveiled by the Chief Minister Sri Siddaramaiah, in the presence of Sri S. M. Krishna, MP, and Sri Ananthkumar, MP.

****

As 2014 approaches, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



August 2013

OUR country is experiencing a crisis of confidence. The sudden and sharp depreciation in the value of the rupee has caught the political establishment and the corporate world off guard. Why has this happened? To put it simply, it is because of complacency, deficiency in governance and a series of scams of very high proportion. When India was Shining with 9% GDP growth, the governing fraternity thought India was moving towards super power status and took the liberty of making a series of bad decisions and introducing socialistic schemes, which India could ill afford. With BRIC countries’ steady growth in the past few years, it was felt that the United States’ influence over the world had reduced. But the USA has once again proved that ‘if it sneezes, the world still catches a cold’ (this time by way of 'Quantitative Easing’). For India to get out of this mess, it is essential to focus on strengthening its economic fundamentals rather than trying to depend on FII hot money.

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However sound the intentions behind socialistic schemes like NREGA, RTE and the Food Security Bill may be, they are bound to adversely impact our country’s current account deficit—primarily because of our record of very poor delivery and execution, resulting in huge leakages. As a developing country, we are not in a position to fritter away lakhs of crores of rupees. If the same amount is spent, year after year, on employment generation projects rather than doles, it would help in self-sustenance of the poor. The old proverb of 'teaching a man to fish, rather than feeding him fish' is what needs to be done. The deadly combination of socialistic schemes of the central and state governments will have a huge negative effect on the availability and productivity of labour willing to work, in spite of our having a population of 1.23 billion.

****

If the government continues to act on the basis of political expediency and the 2014 parliamentary elections, the only thing left for citizens is to pray for the economy to stabilise on its own and to also pray for a stable central government to be elected in 2014. Luckily, the people of Karnataka have got a stable government after many years of instability.

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In an otherwise precarious situation, a silver lining may be that Indian exports will become substantially more competitive and may result in exports exceeding imports, leading to current account surplus.

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Even at this stage, it is heartening to know that international investors still think the long term India story is good, due to its population and resultant demand, and the possibility of graduating from a developing country to a developed country.

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One needs to have hope. To quote Barack Obama, “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty …. A belief that there are better days ahead.” Based on this hope, we in Brigade Group will continue to plan to start more projects in the cities in which we operate. The two recent launches—Brigade Golden Triangle on Old Madras Road and Brigade LakeFront in Whitefield—were well received. More launches are planned in Bangalore and Mysore in the next few weeks, and in Chennai in the new year.

****

It is a nice feeling to find ourselves, for the third year in a row, to be amongst the Best Employers in the country. Economic Times and Great Place to Work Institute has rated Brigade Group as number 2 in the real estate sector and number 52 amongst all industries surveyed. Our ranking has consistently improved year after year. I sincerely thank the entire staff of Brigade Group for this coveted honour.

****

After redeveloping the 3-acre Sangolli Rayanna Park in Malleswaram, another of our major CSR initiatives was completed recently. This was the development of the city authority's 5-acre land in Malleswaram West into a well-planned playground for track & field and other sports. The playground is aptly named after the founder of Bangalore, Kempegowda.

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The year 2013 marks the 150th birth anniversary of the noble soul Swami Vivekananda. It is important to recollect his words of wisdom in this strife torn world. In my opinion, only good economic development can steer us away from political unrest of the kind Egypt, Pakistan and Syria are experiencing. This issue of Brigade Insight is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda.

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Lastly, as major festivals—Ganesh Chaturti, Dussera and Diwali—approach, it is time to celebrate and pray for a happier tomorrow.



April 2013

BY the time this issue reaches its readers, suspense over the Karnataka Assembly Elections will be over. I hope and pray we get a stable government which can give us good governance. The patient and hospitable citizens of Karnataka deserve a government that cares about the development of the State and the welfare of its people. Going by past experience, is this a case of wishful thinking and expecting too much?

****

The political situation in the Centre is a cause for even greater concern. In another year, if not earlier, the nation will go to the polls to elect a new government. So we are sure to witness all kinds of permutations and combinations amongst the political parties, with the common purpose of unseating the current government. Narendra Modi gives us hope, but it remains to be seen whether internal NDA politics will trouble him more than his competitors. His performance at the India Today Conclave was brilliant.

****

After allowing the steadily growing economy to slide, our government seems to have woken up from a deep slumber. They are making the right noises and pronouncements. Investors and businessmen would want the feel good factor to come back. Whether it is too little, too late, is the question. International money is fungible. International investors don't have patience or any special love for India. Although India, with its vast population, has tremendous potential, erratic policies of the government can lead to the flight of capital. Political uncertainty for the next one year will certainly not help our cause.

****

The silver lining for Indian business may come from positive developments elsewhere. With the US economy showing signs of recovery and the worst being over in Europe and Japan, the world economy is more likely to bounce back than slide. The decrease in prices of gold and oil is a definite indicator of better times ahead. How much of a rub off effect it will have on India remains to be seen.

****

I tend to feel that big brother China has taken undue advantage of our country's political instability. We are left with the impression of being surrounded on all sides by them. On the east, they have control over 
two strategic islands in the Bay of Bengal near the Andaman Islands, thanks to Burma. On the west, they plan to build a highway cutting across Pakistan to access the Arabian Sea. On the south, they have entered Sri Lanka. It is extremely important that our government protects the sovereignty of the nation.

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2013 should be a better year for Brigade Group; having launched a few projects already and with the imminent launch of several more projects in the Whitefield area. After much effort, we entered the Hyderabad market with the launch of premium apartments—Brigade at No. 7—in the prime Banjara Hills area.

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As part of our CSR and neighbourhood improvement initiative, we redeveloped the 3-acre BBMP Park, adjacent to the 17th Cross Malleswaram over-bridge. The newly greened and developed park has been well appreciated by its many users. The 5-acre open space on the other side of the bridge is being developed into a nice playground for multipurpose activities. This will be especially enjoyed by children. Incidentally, while on the subject of children, our Brigade Foundation is amongst the first to have embraced RTE students in all its three schools.

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What commitment, determination and innovation can do to urban living is aptly demonstrated by the city Medellin in Colombia, South America. Let us hope against hope that Bangalore will experience a similar reinvention, to make it “a greater city than any other city and a city of the future”, in the words of our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.



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