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.
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.