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.
I must say, our Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi has managed to put India in the centre stage of global politics. Through his deft handling and statesmanship, he has enhanced both his own image and that of the country. His address to the NRI community at Madison Square Gardens in New York, and also in Australia, is nothing short of a rock star performance. The BJP’s performance in the Maharashtra assembly elections is another remarkable feat. It is no wonder that Time magazine has rated him amongst the world’s top personalities in 2014. We all need to wish him well. The hopes of a billion plus people for a better life and better country rests on Narendra Modi and his team..
ON the economic front, while the mood of business and industry is positive, this positive effect is unfortunately not felt at the ground level. Our GDP growth rate, for instance, is yet to improve. It is believed that the many structural changes that are being effected will, in time, give results. Since it is only seven months since the new government took over, one should give the situation the benefit of doubt. But if the economy does not start showing signs of growth by the time the central budget is presented in February 2015, citizens are bound to express disappointment. The BJP government is lucky that our country is the beneficiary of a 40% drop in the international price of oil. It remains to be seen how the huge savings in our import bill will be utilised for the development of the country. It is to be hoped that it will not go towards importing unproductive gold!
EVEN when the economic activity in a huge country like India is not strong, cement manufacturers have managed to cartelise and increase the price of cement by over 50% during the last few months. This is bound to adversely affect construction cost and will lead to increased real estate prices over a period of time. They will make hay while the sun shines (in other words, before the government's Competition Commission can act or react).
THE timely completion of the 256-apartment Aspen block, in the Brigade Orchards integrated smart township in Devanahalli, by our in-house precast construction team, is a creditable achievement. Brigade Group may be the only developer in the country, so far, to have an in-house precast plant. We are pleased to say that construction work at various Brigade Group projects is progressing well (though there have been a few hiccups in some cases). The coming year should see the completion of quite a few of our residential, office, retail and hotel projects.
SOME more breaking news from Brigade Group: We will be making our maiden entry into Gujarat State with residential and commercial projects in the well-conceived and planned GIFT City—probably the first Smart City to come up in the country, as per the vision of our Prime Minister. As part of our customer-friendly initiatives, we have launched a customer portal and an online booking Platform, complete with payment gateway.
IT is highly creditable that Brigade Hospitality's HIGH Ultra Lounge, on the rooftop of WTC Bangalore, has won the Times Food Award as the Best Lounge Bar in Bangalore in its very first year of operations.
IN a moving ceremony, family members of the legendary musician, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bismillah Khan, donated his priceless shehnai to the Centre for Indian Music Experience, which is supported by Brigade Group, among others.
OUR CSR activity to rejuvenate Sitarampalya Lake in Whitefield is showing excellent results. But it is a major challenge to stop the inflow of sewage. Cooperation from the civic authorities and neighbourhood buildings is sadly lacking.
THE time to exchange greetings, enjoy holidays and celebrate family togetherness is just around the corner. I end with warm wishes for a joyous Christmas and New Year to all; may 2015 bring cheer and peace to our lives.