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.
The past few months have not been great for India, for that matter many parts of the world. Exception seems to be United States whose economy has seen substantial recovery in recent times. US being the largest economy in the world, brings a ray of hope to the rest of the countries, including India. There is a lot of turmoil in Europe due to the migrant crisis & terrorism, and they are busy grappling with the problem. While low oil prices have benefitted oil importing countries like India, it has created problems for several oil producing countries in the Middle East, South America and Russia. All this is bound to result in continued economic uncertainty witnessed across the world during the last few months.
While the Indian economy is in a relatively better shape with 7% plus GDP growth, it is likely to become a case of missed opportunities to reach double digit growth in spite of its huge potential. Other than creating the much needed positive sentiment, the single party majority government at the Centre hasn’t succeeded in kick starting major infra projects, in implementing majors policy changes and living up to the election promises made. It is rather sad that opposition parties have unfortunately blocked important initiatives like GST which could have had far reaching positive impact on the Indian economy and its GDP growth rate.
Even at the State & Civic authority levels, the progress in introducing policy improvements is painfully slow. Bangalore, which is internationally recognized, contributes more than 2/3rds of Karnataka State revenue. But, the State does not invest adequately to take care of the milch cow resulting in poor infrastructure, traffi c & garbage issues and inability to cope up with urban growth. Citizens can only hope that before it becomes too late (and allowing it to go down like Kolkata) the decision makers will wake up and act. It is too hurtful to witness the negative publicity our beautiful City gets in the national media.
Brigade Group is not a mute spectator and a critic. In recent times, we spent crores of rupees to make neighbourhood improvements - restored the 23 acre Sitharampalya Lake in Whitefi eld; developed a 3 acre citizens park & a 5 acre playground in Malleswaram; and installed a pedestrian bridge with escalators in Rajajinagar. It gave us immense satisfaction. These signifi cant eff orts were recognized recently by All India Real Estate Developers Association - CREDAI National - when they conferred the National Awards to BRIGADE in two categories - one for Environmental Impact and the other for Social Infrastructure.
Real Estate Management Bill, which was in the offi ng since 2013 should become a reality soon. It is bound to protect the customers by answering their concerns and regulate the way business is conducted by the Developers. It is pro long term players and anti ‘fl y-by-night’ operators. Even then, developers fear that it will add time & cost to launch projects and may become one more window to face harassment, as the Bill contains several draconian clauses for non-compliance.
With excess stock and a ‘status quo’ economy, real estate prices are depressed in general and stable in few cities like Bangalore. For a prudent investor, it is a good time to buy. With deposit rates coming down, Bank deposits are not attractive; with US Dollar gaining strength, Gold is losing its luster; with Stock market being very volatile, it has become too risky for a non- professional operator.
Whatever may be the external factors, hope is what keeps an optimist going. Let us hope 2016 will bring us cheer!
Wishing our readers the Very Best in the year ahead - 2016.