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.
I am delighted and proud that the Indian Music Experience (IME) - conceived, supported & developed by Brigade - is complete and open to public. Though it took nearly 10 years, the end result is excellent and very satisfying. It has received and is continuing to receive appreciation from many critics, music experts & general public who visit the museum. See pages 28 to 31 for more information. I think it is one of Brigade Group’s profound contributions to the city of Bangalore and to enhance India’s cultural heritage. Due to the very nature of the project, IME received quick financial support from the Central & Karnataka Governments, many banks, corporates and philanthropists. I am grateful to each one of them. What is required is more & more people to earmark their time to visit the museum in this busy world.
Results of Indian Parliamentary elections, is bound to have far reaching impact on the future of the country for the next 5 years and probably many more years. Managing 900 million voters is a daunting task, which the Indian Election Commission has mastered like nobody else in this world. What is required is stability and a strong purposeful leadership to take this country of 1.2 billion people forward. Our country was the major economy of the world 4 centuries back but lost its position due to colonial rule and missing industrial revolution. While it is poised to become the 3rd largest economy of the world in the next decade, per capita income must cross US$ 5000 for poverty to be eliminated.
During the last 3 years, Real Estate Sector has been facing the brunt of the Government’s policies - DeMo, RERA & GST. Though some aspects of the policies are positive, it did unsettle the Sector for couple of years. While business was appearing to return to normalcy, the GST Council has made major changes in GST rates, methodology & treatment for residential real estate. One fails to understand the logic of these changes which goes against the very essence & principle of GST. While, in its wisdom, the intent may have been to reduce the impact of GST for housing, the changes effective from April are counterproductive except for premium housing (square foot rate of Rs 10,000 & more. See page 56 for more information. Unwittingly, it is a wrong step towards reaching ‘Housing for all’. It will be a challenge to make customers understand the real negative impact of recent changes in GST for residential sector. Hope the GST Council realises this anomaly and takes corrective steps soon. So also, the anomaly on GST rate of 28% on Cement, which is a major ingredient for civil construction industry. 28% rate is meant only for ‘luxury’ & ‘sin’ goods. Big question - Is using Cement in construction a ‘sin’? Good to get an opinion pool.
The last few months saw a flurry of new initiatives at Brigade. Starting with signing an MoU with the Government of Tamil Nadu to set up World Trade Center (WTC) Chennai and an MoU with Government of Kerala to set up WTC at Thiruvananthapuram. Also, the launch of Art Café at Brigade Gateway and most importantly our foray into Co-working business segment with the launch of BuzzWorks!
The last two quarters also witnessed the completion of 10 projects - Brigade Lakefront (2nd Phase), Brigade Tech Gardens (1st Phase), Plumeria @ Brigade Meadows, Brigade Panorama, Arcade, Cedar & Deodar @ Brigade Orchards, Brigade Atmosphere (1st Phase), Brigade Symphony (2nd Phase), Mysore and our 1st hotel in Kerala, Four Points by Sheraton, Kochi InfoPark.
Our new project Brigade Cornerstone Utopia, a 6 million Sq.ft. mixed-use development in 47 acre will be very unique and is bound to become a major landmark in Whitefield zone. Response to the pre-launch was very encouraging. Few other major launches in the next few months will be Brigade El Dorado, in Aerospace Park near Bangalore Airport, Premium Residences @ WTC Chennai and 2nd Phase of Brigade Xanadu, Chennai.
With sincere hope for a good monsoon, a good and stable Government at the centre for a better India, I convey my best wishes to all our associates, customers & staff, and seek their continued support.