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.
THE hot news, transformational in nature, which is on everyone’s mind, is the kind of electorate support the Aam Aadmi Party received in the Delhi Assembly elections. One could see the freshness of their approach, genuineness in their statements and a desire for change by the citizens of Delhi. I only hope and wish AAP succeeds in administration, if they agree to form the government.
Very unfortunately, in the last few years, the Indian economy has lost direction and has slid in importance and stature in the world economy. The only possibility of regaining the lost credibility would be to have a strong leadership and a stable government which cares for the nation and its people. I hope the April-May 2014 elections will bring such a government in to the Parliament.
In the last two to three months, the Central Government has taken some positive policy steps, though only after getting pushed against the wall. Investors, always eager for positive news, have lapped it up. The silver lining, of course, is the appointment of a very forward looking and intelligent RBI Governor—Mr Raghuram Rajan.
Brigade Cosmopolis on Whitefield Main Road, our joint venture residential apartment project with GIC (Govt of Singapore Investment Corporation), was launched in October. It has been very well received by customers. Brigade Symphony on KRS Road in Mysore, a well planned residential project with plentiful amenities and large open spaces, has received a similarly satisfying response.
The first phase of our large Affordable Value Homes project—Brigade Meadows, next to Art of Living in South Bangalore—is nearing completion. It is good to know that CNBC Awaaz has recognised the project as the 'Best' in its category. This should auger well for the launch of the second phase, to begin shortly.
Brigade Group has recently introduced ESOPs (Employee Stock Options), to begin with, to its middle- and senior-level managers. It is probably the first initiative of its kind among Real Estate Developers in the country and one hopes it helps in motivating the staff to perform better.
I am glad Mr Aroon Raman, Wharton educated industrialist and fiction writer, has joined the Board of Brigade Enterprises Ltd as an Independent Director, in place of the late Dr A. Ramakrishna. The Group will surely benefit from his guidance and support.
Our corporate philanthropic support to the Centre for Indian Music Experience or IME (an interactive museum of music coming up in South Bangalore) is certainly helping to speed up project completion. The base building was unveiled by the Chief Minister Sri Siddaramaiah, in the presence of Sri S. M. Krishna, MP, and Sri Ananthkumar, MP.
As 2014 approaches, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.