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.
2016 has been a challenging year so far for companies, the state, the country & the world. Most countries in the world are struggling with troubled economies. The silver lining seems to be, United States, whose GDP is growing at a healthy rate of 3%, plus considering it is the largest economy contributing to 25% of the world’s economy. Though China’s GDP is growing at 6.5% & India’s at 7.5%, both countries have the problem of excess manufacturing capacities which were built to meet the expected demand of higher growth rates. India’s growth rate is questionable after the government changed the base data for calculations. What is surprising & distressing is that the State of Karnataka, generally considered as a progressive state, had a growth rate of 6.5% last year, which is below the national average.
The Central Budget - 2016, in general, was a commendable exercise by the Finance Minister. He was able to deftly handle many difficult issues. Thanks to the benefit the country is deriving from low oil prices in the international market, we can only hope that industrial growth picks up the way it is expected by the Government. It is sad that most State Government’s are not keeping pace with the vision of the Prime Minister and the efforts of the Central Government, to give a bigger push to the Indian economy.
The Central Budget has done its bit to give a push to the Real Estate Sector, particularly to affordable housing. So also, the much talked about Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), which should help unlock a lot of capital for commercial property developers and help bring in foreign exchange to the country. However, the concept of Smart Cities requires more clarity and much more fund allocation for the initiative to succeed.
5 State Governments are in election mode. The results are important to the present Government at the Centre to implement many major policy initiatives – GST for example. One wonders why so much of governance time is lost due for conducting elections at the Centre, State & Civic bodies at different times? If elections are held together for all, huge saving of resources and time could be achieved. The Indian election commission has the capability & has already excelled in conducting National & State elections very efficiently.
With bank interest rates in the downward mode, if the ruling party in the Centre does well in the State elections & gains majority in the Rajya Sabha, and if the country receives good monsoon during the next few months, there is no reason why the consumer & investment sentiment should not change for the better very quickly.
With this hope, optimism for the future continues.