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.
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.