Saturday, November 12, 2011

Real Estate & Respect!

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem…Abraham Lincoln

Recently I read sharing of a fellow colleague in Sakal & he has pointed at very vital issue about the attitude of society towards the builders or developers! That why cant the society look towards the builders with hostile view or friendly view! Sure many a people will wink their nose & say you yourself think on this, what the reputation of your profession is! And no two minds here, most of the people like the glamour or money in real estate but nobody want the dirt it carries along. No business man can with pride say yes I am a builder & even if he says the society don't pay him the level of respect which is being paid to other business or professions is a fact! Some how during past years the rapport between the society & this industry has got broke & I won’t blame society for that. Many of colleagues won’t like this sharing but by turning our face away from the facts, facts don't change!

Look at the names like Narayn Murthi, Azim Premaji, Tatas & even Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Bharti & I am not even taking names from other countries like Bill Gates & list continues! Not necessary that you should be from white collared IT industry to gain respects, Bjajaj's & Mahindars are from auto industry & so are Oberoys who are from hotel industry. Not only they have gained respect in the eyes of the society but they made their business /profession also get respected in the process of gaining them the respect which the real estate industry men are missing. Here we as real estate industry needs to asses the way these people have been able to achieve what they have achieved. Especially when the real estate industry though it’s not even got the status of an industry as yet, provides homes to millions of this country where home is not just scarce but a sacred commodity. In India home comes before any buy & indeed a dream buy it is! Watch the famous TV show " Kaun Banega Karodpati?" & for 90% contestant when Amitabh asks what’s first thing they want to do when they will win the price of some lacs, the answer come as they will buy a home for their family! No one says that he will buy a car or an I-Phone or a Lap top or will go & stay in a five star hotel with the price money! And apart for making homes the industry is probably the second largest job provider after infrastructure & supports n numbers of small scale trades like carpenter to fitters to masons & the list goes on.

So much demand for the product of this industry & so low respect level about the same of towards the people of the Industry! “Bat Kuch Hajam nahi huae!” Jokes apart it’s not about just the owners or rulers but even people associated with this industry. Ask any topper of Civil engineering branch from engineering college that where he wants to make his carrier & never you will get the reply as in construction firm! It’s always in infrastructure or consultancy or going in to computers. Ask any top class fresh architectural pass out & he dreams to design great public buildings or resort but never a housing complex for middle class by working along with a builder. Ask any real estate employee about where he is serving & you don't find the pride like people take in telling that they work for Telco or Wipro or Perssitance or Infosis! And if you feel I am exaggerating then no sir, these are my own experiences. Few years back when I had gone to represent my firm in an Environment seminar at Delhi, the reception desk girl asked for my details & when I said I am  builder, she gave me a look like she has seen Vijay Mallya in Darubandi rally( Anti-Liquor) !  Such was her  reaction that what a builder is doing in environment seminar? I am the one who is responsible for damaging the environment & why I have been called for such seminar! Agreed a lot of water has passed under the bridge by now but yet that look haunts me & that’s why when I read the write-up I realized though years are passing, the gap between the society & real estate men is increasing. And it’s high time to breech it, more by people from the industry as it’s their image at risk.

From many years there is a constant demand by the real estate people to give it status of industry but govt is being deaf & blind on this demand. Some where the reason is the image is not respected in the eyes of common man & that’s why the power or strength is the demand isn't enough to move government. To get the status of Industry we need icons like other industries have got & there are few but they are real few & that's why when we open up the news paper we have to read the news like “Builders are banned from Mantralay by the new CM". Are we criminals or what for being banned from a public place like Mantralay?  Mukesh Ambani goes to Mumbai Corporation it becomes news, so as if any big Industrialist visits CM or any such dignitary. That’s because they have come for development of the society & to discuss issues like that but not builders who actually develop the society. The reason is people don't believe that men from real estate industry can approach Govt for the benefit of the society but for their own! No business can survive by making profit for only one side of the table & unfortunately this feeling that builders are interested in their profit only has made people to look at the real estate by not only disgrace but with doubt. We have lost the trust of common man & even if we try to do something good with good intentions it’s been turned down. For e.g. the latest issue of Hills in Pune i.e. BDP. No builder to my knowledge has officially build building over hill even in old limit where it was hill top & hill slope & 4% FSI was allowed, rather there are thousand time more slums already existing at such spaces yet the BDP issue is related to builders wasted interests! And joke is no builder protest openly about being blamed for the same! It takes courage to stand against allegations even false they may be & courage comes from the self conduct. I think this is what need of the time, to analyze the self conduct. There are organizations like PBAP & MBVP but the segment is much unorganized & hundreds of small time operators are there who are not members of these organizations. And then issue isn't restricted for one Pune city, it’s about real estate development all over the cities in the country. You can’t differentiate one auto industry from other, though the management may be different or place where the industry is but the manner in which the industry operates & gains the respect in the eyes of the society is same all across the country.

This is what we require to achieve for real estate industry & for that from ground level working is required. There is CREDAI i.e. National level confederation of real estate people but apart from that  self improvement approach should be there in every individual developer. As any organization depends on the kind of people it has got  & they help to improve the entire industry by their behavior. Here business should not mean only making money but going beyond that & sharing the good things with entire society. It doesn't mean just lowering the prices of homes or affordable housing. But it means helping to build a strong society by reaching out the needy segments of the society with all means. May it be social front may it be issue of sports, culture or education or public health, the country has too many lacunas presently & real estate men are definitely capable to fill up many with their resources. Giving transparent deals & sticking up to the commitments we make to our customer is very basic & a must thing, what we have to do is stand tall for other aspects of the society apart from just meaning our business.

After all society is like a mirror reflecting our own deeds! If we are acting doubtfully it will look towards us with same eyes & if our actions are full of trust it will look at us with trust! If we understand this and act accordingly then I don't think the day to gain respect for real estate is away as nothing more noble is there than giving shelter to a homeless family, which is our countries main need today. A own home can boost confidence of men like any thing & that's going to reflect at all fronts the man will be working ultimately benefiting the entire nation & what more we want than that!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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