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.
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.