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.
SINCE our previous issue, much has changed in India’s political scenario. Thankfully, a single political party, for the first time in 30 years, has secured majority in the world's largest parliamentary election. Sri Narendra Modi's win has surpassed the BJP's own expectations. The positive sentiment it has created can be judged by the way the stock market has reacted and from the poll results to Team Modi's 100 days in government. Our elected representatives have a long way to go in enabling the Indian economy to reach its potential and in converting expectations into reality. The challenge of making the 'elephant in slumber' run is huge; but it is possible, judging by Deng Xio Ping achievements in China in the 1980s. The Indian economy needs to be unshackled from bureaucratic controls and inconsistent policies. By implementing forward looking policies, the government should assume the role of a good facilitator, encouraging business and industry to flourish. One hopes the lack of a good monsoon will not adversely affect progress, given the historical fact that the share of the services sector in the Indian economy has been more than that of the agriculture sector.
With a few exceptions, the effect of improved sentiment in the economy has not yet had a positive effect on the Indian real estate sector. In any case, due to its very nature, the real estate business is slow to react—unlike the stock market or gold, which are always regarded as alternative investments to real estate. But considering our Prime Minister's desire to provide 'housing for all' by 2022 (the 75th year of Indian independence), the potential seems to be immense. The task, however, is daunting. The government should also aim to provide clean air, clean water, good sanitation and electricity to the entire population. Why should Indians be deprived of the same quality of life that we see people enjoying on our travels to the Far East, Europe and America? Indian citizens certainly deserve better facilities.
A significant development at Brigade Group is, of course, the understanding with GIC of Singapore to jointly invest up to INR 1500 crores in real estate projects. It is a show of confidence in a relationship that began with our joint acquisition and development of the Brigade Cosmopolis property. I hope and wish the association becomes stronger in the years ahead.
The internationally recognised Great Place to Work Institute and Economic Times have, for the fourth consecutive year, rated Brigade Group as one of the best places to work. We have been ranked second amongst real estate companies and 87th amongst all companies rated in the country. It is a satisfying recognition of our efforts to create a good working atmosphere for our people.
As part of our CSR, we have installed—for the first time in Bangalore—a pedestrian skywalk with escalators on Dr Rajkumar Road, in front of Orion Mall, for the convenience and safety of the general public. If we are to tackle the problem of indiscriminate pedestrian movement across our roads, the city should have more skywalks and subways, preferably with escalators.
Responses to pre-launch bookings for Brigade Panorama, Mysore Road and Brigade Northridge, near Yelahanka, have been good. The same is the case at Brigade Mountain View, Mysore. We are happy to note that handing over of the first set of apartments to clients has started at Brigade Meadows, our large integrated project on Kanakapura Road.