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