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.
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.
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.
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.
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.