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.
Celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi - the Father of our Nation is a great way to recall the principles of this noble man, in this chaotic and materialistic world, especially to Millennials & Generations X - Z. I wonder what may have been the status of our country if the Mahatma had not succeeded in securing independence through his non-violence movement. India as a country did not exist before 1947. It was just a collection of hundreds of princely states within a geographical region. What a daunting task it must have been for Gandhi & his band of leaders to bring all the diverse, multicultural states under one umbrella. What is noteworthy is that our country is growing from strength to strength on its journey (to become the 3rd largest economy in the world) by trying to overcome the economic & political challenges one can expect with an over 1.2 billion population. We have a visionary leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he needs all the good wishes to steer the country towards the right path, to eliminate poverty and to give the vast population of India a decent quality of life.
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is indeed a festival to celebrate the victory of Good over Evil. This is aptly demonstrated by the elimination of the ISIS leader, thanks to the relentless American efforts. What a contrast between a violent leader and a leader who is an epitome of non-violence!
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding election victory, one expected the growth of the Indian economy to go northwards at a faster rate. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It appears that the laws of economics are stronger than the wishes of the population. To me, it seems like a cyclical slowdown affecting the economy, and it appears like a 10-year business cycle. Our country did witness economic slowdown / recession, particularly for the real estate sector, during the years 1988-1991, 1998-2001, 2008-2011 and now. The current recessionary cycle for real estate started quite early in 2016-2017 due to DeMo, the introduction of RERA & GST. The slowdown has taken a huge toll with few large and most one-time, small-medium sized developers exiting the real estate sector. The complexity of doing business has vastly increased due to regulatory changes and challenges. It is seriously, not for the weak-hearted.
Thankfully Brigade, with its diverse portfolio, but more importantly due to following its core corporate values, is managing not only to survive but also to grow. Recessionary & slowdown times create a lot of opportunities for the wise and people with money. This is the time for smart people to make investments but after a proper study of the pros & cons. There are many good real estate projects worthy of investment in our portfolio. While preparing to launch new projects in Chennai & Hyderabad, our focus has been to complete many ongoing commercial & residential projects, apart from launching the next phase of large projects in Bengaluru.
I am delighted to mention that the Indian Music Experience was formally launched with an outstanding music event by Padma Bhushan Ustad Zakir Hussain on the 27th of July 2019. I am elated with the continued appreciation for the concept & content of IME by all those who have visited the museum. It has encouraged the team to work harder and innovate more.
I am also very happy to have signed an MoU with the reputed St. John’s Hospital to set up a ‘Not for Profit’ Health Centre to start with, and a Hospital subsequently for the benefit of the neighbourhood at our large residential project - Brigade Meadows, in Bengaluru South.
Season’s Greetings & Best Wishes for 2020.