Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Curse Named "Affordable Housing"!

"A strong economy causes an increase in the demand for housing; the increased demand for housing drives real-estate prices and rentals through the roof. And then affordable housing becomes completely inaccessible."
William Baldwin

Affordable Homes, a Curse?

Many will be surprised by the heading of the sharing but somehow after going through the recent activities in real estate that's what I feel about the subject! Recently once again real estate & affordable homes came under lime light & as usual for wrong reasons! On one side our Hon. Prime Minister's dearest dream “Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana 16” is being highlighted on media via catch line ,"PM Narendra Modijika Sapana, Subka Ghar ho Apana" & on other side media as well socialists (I have yet to understand what it means exactly) are hell bend to prove there is huge scam happening under the nameof PM's home scheme! Actually its not affordable home scheme which is being wrongly presented, as it has been launched with all good intention! Under the scheme by which any first home buyer with annual income under five lacs rupees will get Rs. two lac fifty thousand subsidy by central govt whatever cost of the home may be! He can buy home any where even for building his own home under this scgeme! So taking advantage of this scheme some company which has advertised their projects by using Hon PM, CM & Guardian Minister's snaps has been now tagged as guilty for cheating people rather common home seeking people! No doubt no one should use govt’s name unless it’s agreed or allowed by the Govt itself & if it is a project where Govt is a party; yet the said developer has done it & now everybody is busy in executing the developer as well entire real estate industry! I am not authority to bail out the developer neither he should be if he has cheated people; but in the process we have forgotten the main issue i.e. Affordable Housing! Like water is essential for survival, same way especially in cities you need a home of your own for survival & with urbanization on rampant in Metro's like Pune, Mumbai yet there are millions who can’t even dream for their own home here! The response for the advertising campaign for these projects (I am not saying the way was right) which the above said developer got, should be an eye opener for the Govt as well Media, as had the govt itself has launched such projects then no private developer has required to take advantage of govt's own subsidy schemes! I am not defending any developer as whatever wrong if he has done then court is there to punish him; issue is who is going to punish the Govt for failing repeatedly to provide affordable homes to the real end user?

Looking at the way media has gone after the builder & real estate, it seems the affordable housing is a curse as why should a builder think of affordable in first place? Does any private education institute which charges hefty fees or takes donations thinks of affordable education? Does Cinema Multiplexes think of making affordable entertainment? Does hotels thinks about affordable dining? Joke or sarcastic part of my statement apart what I feel is who are developers to decide affordable homes? Dear Developers, let's plan your projects the way you want to build & sale it at whatever rate you feel is right, that's all! Leave affordable homes for govt as its their baby is what I personally feel; do mind you are here to make some money by selling what you have committed & not to propagate Govt's or PM's dreams, is what the lesson real estate should learn through this entire episode! So stick to what you have committed & commit whatever you want but very clearly & transparently as day's are not bright & shiny, here it's not what you do good is looked at but when you stumble then we will hit you, is the way social media look at it! If you deliver what you have committed then it was your job but if you fail by any reason then you are to be hanged, is the today “Mantra” of social media! So accept it & leave the dream of giving people affordable homes & build for your own survival, that's reality of real estate!

But the entire chain of events does got surfaced many questions which came in our view like outcome of "Amrit Manthan" & if we really care for affordable housing then its high time to face these questions & put our energy in some productive manner to answer them! So trying here to analyze few of them...

 Affordable Homes, Whose Job is it?

Affordable housing is the talk of time & all of sudden you can read in every new paper about the talks shows & seminars on the topic recently. When ever I think on any issue of a home, I realize how emotional we are on this topic & may be that's the cause we have always failed to do something real concrete about any good policy regarding Housing Industry. After all policies has to be made on practical basis & not just to win the elections & we need to understand one thing very clearly, in a country like our which is a conglomerate of all sorts of living standards "

We are never going to make every body satisfied at a time! "

Affordable Home doesn’t mean to ask people to compromise from 2bhk flat to 1bhk flat or to reduce & squeeze the 2 bhk / 3 bhk flat in smaller area by reducing room dimensions! It’s making the whole procedure of home manufacturing to home buying simple & clear so as every one can have his own options as per his pocket size. Like in car market you have option of Maruti Alto at 2.5 lac to BMW 7 series at 1.5 crore! All the vehicles have 4 wheels only but what matters is achieving balance between need of the customer & supply of the range of vehicles the Industry offers. And policies which assure that the Industry is able to deliver what the customer wants.

And this is exactly where we have been went wrong repeatedly with any policy related to Housing, for e.g. we want Land holders, Builders, Slum residents, Middle Class, Environmentalists, Large scale building material manufacturers, Housing Finance Institutes, Banks, Politicians & at last Local Municipal body, all happy at a time ! Because Landholders want full value of their lands potential even considering the TDR to be utilized on it! Builders want to make money by selling homes as it's their business, Slum residents wants a proper home without paying any thing which will be maintenance free & as big as they can get, Middle class wants a home within right in the city  with all loans at lowest interest, Environmentalists want a clean pollution free green & infrastructural sound city, Building material manufacturers like Cement, Steel don’t want the rates governed of their material, Housing Finance Company’s also won’t lower their interests rates, Banks won’t consider Builders as reliable clients, Politicians don’t want their voters unsatisfied & the local Municipal body want revenue but not the blame for any segments accusation of being friendly with other !

Now how we are going to manage it?

Firstly understand the Housing Industry, treat it as an Industry, frame the rules accordingly & fast & implement them ruthlessly. Here ruthlessly means don’t spare any segment of above all related when it's a breach of the law once made. We make the policies keeping in mind that what if someone broke it? Actually if we enforce them without any bodies influence & not to please any segment then no body will dare that. Proper laws, backed up by an enforcement system always save the time & as in any industry, here too time is money. Does anybody have ever analyzed in Dubai or Hong Kong they built 70-80 storied tower in 3 years flat. Here we will need that much time for such type of tower to get all sanctions itself! Now who is going to pay for this time span? Time delay is for simple reason, with repeated scandals everyone is scared to sign on anything & takes his own time making things delay. The laws are vague & many a time individual case becomes a policy & which often happens. This is defeat of the system as agreed land & buildings is a tricky topic but yet we can cover 90-95% cases in the policy & then rest can be dealt as individual case & for that also a system of forming a tribunal can be formed.

A one window sanction is just like a fairy tale & so as the taxes right from Stamp duty to Vat to Service tax to Development charges by local bodies & add on things like Road cutting charges for Infrastructure & the list goes on! Here no one is ready to reduce their stake as everyone wants his chunk out of this hen which they think giving golden eggs! We are forgetting that we need to rationalize every rupee we will be spending on making a home then only we can rationalize home prices.

The basic raw material for housing is land & its limited edition type stuff is a fact. If everybody wants to live in a locality where schools, market, medical facility, workplace are close by with other infrastructure like water, power, drainage is available in ample then naturally there is a drift between demand & supply of such land. That is why we can’t provide affordable housing to all, as definition of the term affordable varies within the classes of society. For e.g. a 2bhk at 40 lacks may not be a big deal for a couple earning 50k per month with the kind of job & loan facility they can have but even a well doing small scale business man or professional can’t have it as he don’t get the loan backing! Keep apart the class 3 or class 4 segments as their budget & issues are again different.

Why cant the local body buys sizable land on all sides of the city in fringe outside the municipal limit & develop basic things like one point water supply & transportation arrangement to the main city , define the land rate. Now ask developers to build flats with all internal infrastructure there in leave of TDR in main city & sale these homes to the real needy ones at fix price? If we are expecting it by developers only then we should take the guarantee of getting the things sold & assuring fix rates of basic materials like steel & cement. Whenever we say affordable then it means that the same thing is applicable to all who are related to the finish product. I am not taking side of developers but if we can’t assure a fixed profit then we have no right to ask him to sale a t fix price, no court of law will accept that.

Land pricing is another issue as its demand driven, imagine a city with infrastructure available all around balanced, then there won’t be demand in one particular area. And even if it’s there then it will be within a limited segment, so let them buy at heavy price they can afford but at least majority of the people will have their own home then around the city.

The Developer is governed by so many govt/semi govt agencies & with no restriction of profit making. This profession may the most unprofessionally run profession & that’s why is the profits are enormous so are the risks involved. But yes accepting with all these, one needs to keep his social binding in mind & keep the profits under some self marked lines is the best one can do till we define some fixed rules for the game. The basic material manufacturers just don’t care for builder as their main customer is govt as most infrastructure structures like dams, roads are done by govt. And it’s here the consumption of cement & steel is more. There has to be a control on all such materials if we want to control home prices. Also what we need is R & D in this industry & a feasible one as we can’t use mud & thatch for constructing high rise buildings. Over the years the basic construction practices are same & so are the planning concepts.

The most important segment is least talked or worked on & that is the entire financing system for the Real Estate Industry. Housing finance company’s interest rates & loan eligibility norms needs to be more clear & transparent as that’s the main reason where a person’s affordability is defined. The major problem is with the people working in non corporate segments like departmental stores or having small business, they are always deprived from getting loans on the name of improper security! Everybody right from the developer to the financial institutes are targeting for the people who are capable of buying & repaying the loans of higher amounts but what about those who have a limited class with limited budget? They neither have choice in projects nor with financial institutes! How many people know that there is a special 1% reduction in interest if the loan amount is below 25 lacs? The hitch here is even if you are getting 80% loan then 25 lacs means the total flat must be within 30 lacs i.e. as 20% is your contribution & now where are the flats which are available in such range? So very few can avail the reduction in interest rate! What we need is go for some wider range finance schemes with lower inte available to them. Presently it’s like all other segments associated with the real estate financial institutes even the nationalized banks also are looking for their profit first & yet we expect prices of homes within reach of all! Same is applicable to banks for which builders are the least priority. Banks are very happy to finance the flat holders as they see a great potential in housing finance but are equally reluctant to finance the developers especially the smaller segment ones! Now a days no landlord sale the land without getting his full payment upfront & if banks are not going to finance for the land then the developer raise this money from private market where interest rates are as high as 24% per year. And who is going to pay this added burden? Obliviously the flat holder, who again has to pay for his housing finance also!

I am not intending to say it’s not the developers who have any responsibility in this, no doubt the community should think on this front & whatever they can save by using modern construction practices they should try & pass on to the end user. Unfortunate is because of lots of uncertainties among above mentioned factors those who have got the land at cheaper rate, they also sale the finished product i.e. flats at higher or prevailing market rate thus making it impossible for any space to accommodate the term Affordable! It’s time to remind us that the purpose of this Industry is not to just make profits but to give the society houses they need too.

What is role of Politician's?

Many will blindly say to earn money & publicity!  Well, again joke apart the politicians along with our rulers must understand the scenario & accept their responsibility to make people have the homes of their choice in their budget. Just announcing popular schemes won’t do good as it’s the private developers who are the key to provide affordable homes is a fact. At the same time blame game won’t do any good to any segment; instead use the power which they have for assisting the local body/ govt to frame the laws & fast for the end cause. This is where lies the key to Affordable Homes for the Common Man & not by just proving some builder guilty for cheating people under the name of affordable housing or blaming the real estate isn't the solution for real estate, is all I wanted to conclude with!

At the same time let clients understand this, no one can make your affordable definition, you have to use your brains & decide it; even if PM himself is advertising any project then also! Choose wisely & with open mind not just eyes as all which looks good need not be necessarily good for you in the end!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
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Friday, April 15, 2016

A Dream Called Clean Pune !

“You have a responsibility to keep your homes, surroundings and city clean.” … Lailah Gifty Akita

Lailah Gifty Akita is a Ghanaian and founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation. She obtained a BSc in Renewable Natural Resources Management at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana. She also had MPhil in Oceanography at the University of Ghana. She obtained a doctorate in Geosciences at International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles-Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany (June 2011 to March 2016). Lailah is an influential lady with the passion of empowering the mind of young people to make a great difference.  She is author of “Think Great”, an inspiring book for everyone! And yes her above quote is an eye opener especially we so called Smart Punekars!

As usual after news paper Sakal run a story about dead rivers in city, a cleaning drive has been announced by all political parties as well our local bodies & at the same time there was  “Anti Spiting Drive”, rather the  “Anti Spitting Day” also got declared! That’s just great, as if now we need to tell people don’t spit around then what we should teach next? Don’t urinate around or use your own home toilets only for daily rituals! This city & its citizens always amaze me with their dual attitude. When it comes to individual homes then we are so fussy that no housing society wants a public toilet or garbage bins in front or even near their building. But these very same citizens just don’t care while spitting  120/300 paan or throwing their beer cans around on road! Recently one of flat holder in my building Mr. Anand Sontakke, a decent  IT guy who unfortunately resides on first floor has wrote a letter to all the society members, telling somebody from upper flat holders throws cigarette butts in his terrace at night & he has also added that people throws every sort of thrash including empty shampoo bottles to used shaving blades in the ducts which actually are supposed to be there for just carrying drainage lines & ventilation! Well ours is so called upper class residence & here a flat holder himself has to write a letter about cleanliness to the neighbors, what kind of educated society we are & these very same people writes letter in news paper against over flowing dustbins as “jagruk nagrik”!

Every morning PMC’s garbage collecting truck comes to our society & the man on the truck gives a nice smile to me & trust me that’s the worst ever job you can imagine! All day long you have to sit on hip of a garbage which stinks leave apart danger of getting caught by any disease, how many of us can do it & on top of it  remain smiling, I wonder what kind of man that guy is! I try by myself to make wet & dry garbage segregate & keep the garbage wrapped as neat as I can or at least has instructed to family members as well our house maids & yet what happens at society door is everything gets mixed & the poor fellow on the truck has to segregate the garbage by his bare hands!

Then I regularly come across a sweeper who in the morning hours cleans the foot-paths which are covered with not just dust but dog poop, cow dung & every such thing which will make us impossible to walk on it without getting our shoes dirty. And this sweeper fellow silently like a zombie is cleaning the footpath by whatever equipment's he has & many a times with bare hands as he even don’t have decent rubber gloves! (That reminds me to buy both these guys gloves at my own cost) On few meters ahead from my residence there is series of restaurants aligned & so are some paan pattis or cigarette shops (no English word here as English people don’t eat paan). All the time people are smoking around these joints & eating tobacco & coloring the footpaths at free of cost. I think tobacco chewing & paan eating is worst curse this country has. I remember somewhere reading about famous Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang who visited India hundreds of years back & has specifically mentioned Indian Men eating some kind of leafs & spitting blood! That time I was a kid & has laughed for poor understanding of Tsang about India but he was right its worst than blood as not just damaging aesthetics of the surrounding but in a way its killing your own systems by eating that poison. Agreed by Ayurweda some types of paan are good & digestive & help in maintaining body temperature cool by eating them but definitely Ayurwedas didn’t meant tobacco paan & on top of it spitting what you have ate all around!

More entertainment followed when our Hon Mayor gave final dead-line to PMC administration to remove illegal cutouts/banners or hording; though I wonder when it come to political people’s banners & cut outs whether the term legal exists at all! Well his own karykartas also wouldn't have taken it seriously, as firstly why you need to give a dead line to remove illegal hoardings, is the question a common citizen like me will ask. And then how hording are related to Clean Pune drive is another question some innocent may ask! I think for that we first have to understand definition of clean & aesthetics of the city. You move around any corner of the city & what you see is garbage-bins over flowing, all sort of  waste all around including food leftovers to beer cans & cigarette stubs & spitting markings coloring footpath, stinking public toilets & in addition to that cow dung! This is scene on ground leve & you look at sky & you see most ferociously ugly faces staring at you under the name of “Bhau, Anna, Saheb or Mahraj” from every corner of sky! Actually I always wonder many of these faces would be better placed at some police chowkis on their wanted board but anyways there they wouldn’t have got so many admirers! This is where a clean city is banner or hording free city too, as we are spoiling the look of our sky line with such hording!

Here I remember images from many countries I have been & especially Singapore as well USA which are extremely fussy about keeping public places clean. Near the Statue of Liberty in New York which is most visited public place, there is a board warning the visitors of fine $ 25,000 for throwing empty water bottles or cans around or in sea! That amount if converted in our currency becomes nearly Rs 18 lac, can you imagine that kind of fine, and it’s more than even accidental death claims in our country! And I am sure nobody dares to throw a water bottle even by mistake there as the administration team may it be police or local body will recover this amount or will put the person behind the bar for such offence! On this background I am tempting to make an application under right of information, that in Pune in last one year how many people has been punished for spitting on road or throwing garbage at public places? We have become so immune to these things that we have forgotten that its legal offence to make our surrounding dirty! As our definition of cleanliness is restricted to our four walls which we call home & we turn our blind eye towards any dirt outside our home!

I think solution lies in two things, making people aware & not just by news paper advertises or banners but by demonstration on streets. Take help of NGO’s, Corporate Companies staff, School Kids, College students & there has to be daily on road demonstrations as well appeal to those who makes surrounding dirty by any act may it be throwing garbage or spitting. At the same time let’s take an oath to vote to the candidates of the party which has least banners or hoardings of its so called leaders, lest spread this message publicly & role of media is vital in this. Our political leaders are afraid of only one thing & that is election, so let them know that we hate seeing theirs & their karyakartas faces through hoardings all the time! At the same time make the local elected ward members equally responsible for illegal hoarding as well bad conditions of public toilets & maintaining cleanliness in his or her ward! As when it’s their own interest for e.g. opening of any footpath or cycle track or underpass in the ward the very same members immediately intervene if their name isn’t mentioned saying it is their right as it’s their ward, so why not take responsibility of wrong doings also in their ward? As well take competition of best ward in the city & give more budget provision for the best maintained ward in budget!

And then at last comes the administration as their attitude towards the city & cleanliness is real matter of concern; they just don’t care or are afraid to takepanga with political parties or of public & think who cares when its matter of aesthetics of the city! Right from policeman to ward officers or staff of local body, should be given full authority to stop anybody who has been caught making public places dirty by his act & punish heavily so that no one will dare to do it again! Also see that the people who are doing odd jobs like cleaning roads as well public places must be given proper setup for doing the job & good salaries. Then we can make compulsory for establishments like road side eateries & paan/cigarette shops to keep their surrounding clean or else fine them heavily & even then their clientele keeps on making surrounding dirty then shut that joint off! And for that first all these govt personnel’s should understand keeping this city clean is very much part of their duty! 

Its real shame that we have to follow Anti Spitting Day type drive & citizens as well NGO’s has to bang doors of Courts for keeping city’s rivers clean! If at all we have any pride left in us as responsible citizen then this is the time to show it by our action, as one day the entire city will be hip of garbage & dirt & we only will be responsible to ruin our own future! Real problem is not garbage or spitting, real problem is our dirty attitude, is all I will conclude!


Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Happy B'day Son.. A Father's Greeting!

4 4 16

“It’s not about being hero; it’s about doing right thing”... Super Hero Character, “Flash”.

Dear Rohan,

Chota, this has been taken from your whats-ap DP only & you know my affection for super hero’s very well! I always keep checking yours as well dada’s DP’s & status you keep as they give me idea of what’s going in your minds or at least I think so! And out of your DP’s only I chose this quote to write you on your nineteenth bday. I don’t know since when I have been writing to you on bday’s or any occasions as for me words are my best colors to make a greeting of my own! And then my father has never wrote anything to me though he is a good dad I must admit. And then in our genre talking or sharing something with dad is a rare thing & even I also failed to share your things especially when you were kids. Now you are grown up by years as tomorrow you will be celebrating your 19th bday; I don’t even remember my 19th bday as I was already at job at that age with dsk group. As we do use to celebrate our bday’s with friends but budget was limited & yet fun was unlimited. Frankly I wonder about what your genre call as celebration as what’s fun when you have got everything you wish; real fun is not having what you wish & then you achieve it with your efforts, I think that’s what your genre lack. Have you ever realized that your one shopping session at Phoenix under the name of bday is nearly equal to budget of an average family’s entire month’s expense! No harm in spending for personal pleasure, just we should also try to do something for those who haven’t got anything, this is what I say growing up is & not just celebrating bdays! You have to earn your spending too is what I feel & to earn means right to spend, not just having bank balance which comes to most by luck!

Chota I have never compared what I was at your age with you or dada neither expected you to do same things I did as the way we grew up there is sea difference in the background. By grace of god we also were lucky to get what we want but then our needs were very less & our surroundings was with less exposure to what outer world has. In your genre biggest challenge is keeping away from comparison & comparison is good but when it’s about performing better & not just possessing some pair of shoes or branded goods. I am yet to understand whether you are luckier than me or not, especially on this front; as you have everything at the age of which I was envious with my college fiends for having such possessions especially after coming to Pune! Today you will be getting your own SUV & sure there will be many having their own SUV at your age but then there are far more numbers of those who don’t even owns good pair of shoes at your age leaves apart an SUV, this you should understand! And it’s this not having something which I never took as some lacuna of my life but created a burning desire of creating my own world & having what I wanted to have! FYI, I bought my Priya scooter at exactly age of yours for which I got loan from Kedar kaka’s parents for it which I repaid from my salary & some part aaji repaid from hers.

That’s why I will like to understand what your desire is, as you have everything on platter, but then your challenge is bigger than mine as it’s easy to perform on empty stomach but equally difficult to do so with stomach full. On you bday I wish always an empty stomach for you; one will wonder what kind of father I am who wish empty stomach for his son but what I meant is let the hunger be in you to perform more better way, as excellence has no limit! As if you read biography of all so called successful people, they might have been businessmen or sportsmen or even artist, one thing is common in all of them & that is the hunger to achieve better than what they done on yesterday! Each day they start as new challenge & that’s real fun to live the life. Agreed all these things at your age won’t come naturally unless you are a born genius, which very few of us are; but then growing up is knowing our own self too!

These are tough times for you & for everybody around as we often mix relations with ego. I may not be a good father up to your mark but whatever I have includes you, dada & aai & all I want is you making proud to yourself by doing right as your DP say. At the same time I am a good son this I can say with confidence & pride as I see it in eyes of aaji & aabba! They have never expected me to earn just money (which is important, no doubt) but more than that they expected me to walk on right path, right in their definition & which they tried to teach me when I was young. Today if whatever I have earned is important, then more important is what I am doing with it, may it be money or knowledge or even respect too! And for doing proud to yourself you need to understand what is right as then only you can decide your rightful path & the way for the same goes through good reading, good watching (movies, nature etc) & good company of friends only. Chota growing up is choosing good friends as many people will come in your life in different contexts, that’s not in your control but whom you continue to live with is what will decide what you become! That’s what growing up is!

Lastly growing up also mean to learn to make your own definition of life, as this is era of cut & paste & people do it right from words to pictures everything & in the process forgets the value of originality. Remember one thing there is difference between being similar & copying as your thoughts can be similar or matching with someone but up to until you have not copied them from someone, then no harm! And respect your originality as well respect others & for that you have to know the difference between copy & original & it can only be done by being original by yourself! These again come with thinking & like you learn or master any game with practice, thinking also needs practice, mind it always!

So go on my son, no more you are a kid or even a teen as you are leaving teen age today, do grow-up as a responsible man but keeping the teen always within, jumping, freaking & smiling! One last thing never face-off from your responsibilities may it be at work or at home or in friends, whatever may come as you may not need someone but someone needs you, mind that always! As your father I will always tell you, that it’s fine if you are not a loving or caring person but be a responsible man as eventually it teaches you everything, even to love!