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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.