Saturday, September 21, 2013

Not Your or Mine But Our Ganpati!






Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing….Rollo May

The great American psychologist has very neatly defined the success behind any community’s togetherness & I witnessed it recently when has been called at one of our completed project Ashtagandh, for prize distribution of Ganpati festival competitions. Even a single festival can do miracles & on that front in Pune, I think Ganpati celebrations are much more festive than that of Diwali also. It’s not just a festival where you make sweets & enjoy with friends & family but it has become the platform where entire segment of the society comes together & this is where a bunch of people staying together becomes a community!

Ashtgandh is a small project with nearly 30 units & they have been accompanied by the neighboring few row houses for the Ganpati festival. It was a cozy function as the secretary of the complex welcomed me & informed in brief that they are celebrating the festival jointly for the first time together & it’s in parking of one of the three buildings only, the pendol has been set. All seven days they had organized different competitions amongst the residents & for all age groups & gender i.e. there was painting event for kids with a theme about importance of trees keeping in tune with environment & fancy dress too. Then there was cooking competition for ladies of the complex as well rangoli competition & events like that. All these have been organized & co-ordinated by few youths from the complex which was well assisted by the senior members. And as a final event it’s being concluded by prize distribution for all participants & a dance event by the kids & then a lunch together. It was very simple & cozy affair without any fancy decoration or lighting. The Ganpati statue itself was set on a homemade stage in one of parking with side wall covered by colored clothes & flowers. I think that was the success of the event as the entire décor & mood was making everybody at peace & ease. That way such celebrations isn’t uncommon in Pune & nothing special about the entire scene as there must be thousands of such complexes where Ganpati is being celebrated in this way. 

Eventually this Ganpati festival I came across one more such rzendevious with Ganpati festival of another such complex building. Where I have been invited by one more single building residents, one of which is my friend, where I gave a slide show presentation about Kanha forest in front of a crowd of hardly thirty odd people was there, right from five years kids to seventy-five years old grandpa’s were present! This also was a new experience for me. What was pleasant is to feel is their enthusiasm & the joy with which all were participating in the festival! As this is the soul of the festival for which it has been started by Lokamanya Tilak more than hundred years back. All around us when every public festival is getting shifted from the cause & getting commercialized & being considered as fun fair for just few karyakarta’s, it was heartening to be part of such cozy event keeping in tune with a human touch to entire thing. And which in real term can be called as social event. Speaking about my own feelings, what more honor it could have been for a builder than being called by residents of his one of the competed projects & getting felicitated for doing some good work! Especially on the background of bitterness of builder customer relation in this industry, it’s quite uncommon!

These are the times when many of us proudly say that we don’t know even our neighbors leave apart having knowledge of good & bad things happening in the neighbors house. This is the same Pune which boasts itself as a cultural capitol of the State & City of Wada’s where what’s being cooked in one house is being known to entire surrounding, such was the warmth of the relations amongst the families staying in backyards of the gallis or by lanes of a locality. And now it’s saddening that when any couple comes for booking to me, they are least interested in knowing who is their neighbors & information like that. All they are interested in knowing what kind of amenities & specifications their flat is having but don’t want to know about who the other occupants of the buildings will be! After all they are going to be neighbors for ever & yet such ignorance about them right from beginning! Even as a developer our staff is also not bothered about making them aware regarding such information is also a fact. Already our life is getting too mechanical & gadget oriented; the face to face dialogues are being lost in Whatsapp & Chats & FB. At such times festivals like Ganpati are the great bond healer which is getting lost from the people staying together. I delebretly used the term staying together & not living together as there is a huge difference in both. To stay together is like you are there physically that’s all, but when you live together you are concerned about the individual living around you. You care about someone’s problem & you become part of his joys too. You support your neighbors & in return they become your support in all incidences of life that is what living together is meant!

As a real estate developer I always wonder what it makes a home, is it the buildings we build or the people live in these buildings or the amenities & specifications we provide? What it is after all? I think I find the answer in Ashtagandh Ganpati Festival where all residents have come together for a festival keeping away materialistic things like age & status & this togetherness is what makes a home. A home does not necessarily means anybodies four walls with lots of interior of individuals choice but it’s a feeling which goes through these concrete walls which we have built around us & shares our emotions with people who are living in our surroundings & to which we call our neighborhood! This is what we can proudly mention as our society where people are living in homes & not just luxurious flats!

We need more & more such Ashtagandh societies around, as this is the answer to our future rather key to our feature. Its festivals like Ganpati which melts the terms like "your & mine" but converts them in "ours'! In so many ways we in the role of a developer can support such events as it need not be just financial support which off course is welcome but we can ask our marketing team to promote the concept in our completed projects residents. Promoting such concepts of togetherness is what going to make us Promoter & not just building more buildings! As all required is someone to take just a step in right direction. Many complex issues such as maintenance charges or contribution of the society can be resolved once people starts coming together & having a dialogue amongst themselves. And what better occasion than Ganpati festival for this first step!  

As per what Rollo May has said, being a developer its duty of the entire real estate to cultivate this culture amongst what we have built. Then only we can be proudly called as a developer or else we will end up as just the machines which produces concrete structures, makes money out of it & at the end become the destructor of the terms like community & society, to which even the Lord Ganesha won’t be able to save!


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To dear Rohit, on having your first bike...



If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on…..Lance Armstrong

Dear Rohit, agreed the great unfortunate champion said this in context of bicycle yet is applicable to every two wheeler you ride! Today you got first bike of your own & sure you must have been exited, happy & what not! Watching you looking at your black CBR 250, remembered few frames of a small kid…. First one was of a 13 year boy in a town named Khamgaon who accompanied his father to the show room when the family was buying a Luna! It was a popular & may only two wheeler they could afford & the Dad had not then learnt to drive double seat so the boy ran along with him till their home from the show room with dad driving the Luna! I still remember that running, though Abbu i.e. your grandfather may not be even remembering the incidence now! Years after that the boy used to wash that Luna & when daddy wasn’t around used to seat on it when its parked on stand! And then when the boy went to engineering at age of 16 then he went to Pune for engineering & as he wasn’t of 18 which was the license age then, he use to move around with a ladies bicycle waiting some day he will get his two wheeler. And he got that Luna delivered in Pune when he become 18 year old & was in 3rd year engineering. I still remember going Pune station to take its delivery on a rainy morning it had arrived by Maharashtra Express & as it has come empty tank I took it cycling to the nearest petrol pump & what joy it was to feel the petrol in my own Luna!
Then that was the age of first generation of bikes of Yamahas, TVS Suzuki’s, Hero Honda & Kawasaki Bajaj; MIT i.e. our college was full of new bikes & each day I use to dream someday I will have one such. Many a times myself & Milind Hedaoo kaka use to stand in front of showrooms & look at the display bikes but never once I asked my parents for one as I knew it was beyond their capacity to buy one! My partner had a Kinetic Honda, that also I never asked for the ride as even by mistake I met with accident then I wouldn’t be able to repair it, was what I knew. And best part was I never felt sad of bad about not having bike though I do had fascination for bikes like any teen ager would have! Pune then also was having poor public transport & I used to wait at bus stops for hours as many a times petrol was second priority when it comes to movies & eating outside with friends & money coming from home was always restricted!

I got my first & last bike in form of a Priya scooter when I got the job & then also neither myself was having enough money to buy it nor my parents could send that much money. Its Kedar's mom i.e. Sahshi mawshi who gave me loan to buy my scooter & I finally got something which I could show off! I got married with that scooter at our home & your aai’s & mine first outings has been witnessed by that scooter only! And then I got a car & then due to work load a driver & that was end of my biking dreams & days!  
All these scenes come to my mind when I was looking at the bikes displayed in that show room toady, before you arrived to take the delivery. I knew you wanted the black one so with the help of good friends like Sagar, I could arrange it & again it’s the friendship & the relations only, which you maintain comes in play at such times, is what I realized. At this juncture of life I don’t say I have learnt everything but I have seen many things, good & bad & keep sharing with you & Rohan that may be today you won’t realize its importance but some day you will sure.

Remember the bike today you got is a responsibility too as it makes you in the league of few lucky teens who have got what they wished for in their age only! You may say, what big deal as many of the teens have got lot better bike than what you have got , may be even  a Harley Davidson also! But then millions of teens don’t have have even a simple bicycle also, is equally a fact!  So when you will be enjoying the ride on the bike of yours, always keep in mind that you have a responsibility on your shoulder for so many others who are not as lucky as you are.

Another thing as a father who is entering in mid forties, the speed is good but dangerous thing too, so drive with care & care for others life too. The traffic situation in the city is getting worst by each passing day & we do care for you is all I can say!

And as Lance Armstrong said, never be afraid of riding any challenge or to carry any responsibility, as that’s the only way to face or take the one! Lastly thanks for giving me the opportunity to see the joy of having a pride possession getting fulfilled, as somewhere it was me looking to that bike from your eyes! Enjoy & take care…

Baba

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Amenity Space or Dumping Space!






“A city is not an accident but the result of coherent visions and aims.”….Leon Krier

Léon Krier is an architect, architectural theorist and urban planner. He is one of the first and most prominent critics of the architectural modernism, mainly of its functional zoning and the ensuring sub urbanism, campaigning for the reconstruction of the traditional European city model. These ideas had a great influence on the new urban development, both in the USA and Europe. And look at the simplest way he has described a complex term like City! Unfortunately our country especially the so called Metros in the country seems to turn a blind eye on such wise around the world about urban planning.

What I like of being an engineer as well developer is, despite all the negative comments about the profession I am in, is there are so many things happening around with real estate that if you keep your mind open then it’s never get bored with my routine! Recently I came across two headlines about urban development, one was about following Singapore pattern for city’s development & it was in reference to Hon Urban Development Minister of Country, who said they will try to follow what Singapore has done! Very good dream but there is a difference between dream & aim! We mostly end up just dreaming & not aiming is what I have observed about such statements!

Well what happens at central Ministry level is too far from our Pune city, so let’s focus on second news, which was about using of Amenity spaces for storage of materials confiscated during encroachment action by our PMC. In short words making them dumping yards!  Many will wonder what significance of this news is & how does it matters to city planning & things like that? For that we will have to understand the concept or the term Amenity Space & then we will realize its importance in city planning. An Amenity Space means an area composed of on-site, common or private, indoor or outdoor space, designed for active or passive recreational use. In simpler words it is a space i.e. piece of land which is restricted for use to build infrastructural buildings for large residential, commercial or public use projects. Its area which can be used for activities which can be of use to the society or surrounding locality, means Post office, Hospital, Market or Fire Brigade Office or a School & the list is long. Any city requires many establishments for its day to day needs & as the city keeps growing the needs to grows. Land is most scarce commodity in today’s urban life so it is very important to put every available piece of land for proper use. Keeping in this aspect in mind PMC has made it mandatory for any development on land ad-measuring more than 40,000sq ft in extended boundaries, to have 15% of such land reserved as Amenity Space. And this land developer has to hand over to PMC which eventually was or is supposed to use it for the above mentioned purposes. In a way a great thought but somehow on one side it unjust with the developer as he has to give part of his land & not getting TDR for that portion also the space for FSI utilization gets reduced, which eventually becomes loading on the remaining land. More over the developer has to build a compound wall around this space & has to make such entry on 7/12 on PMC's name for ownership of the said land! Joke is on old or existing PMC limit this wasn’t or isn’t the requirement unless the land is more than approximately 3,00,000 sq ft i.e. 3 hectors! Which is right in a way as when the development plan wasn’t ready this course of action was right, so as the new area will have enough spaces for amenity purpose but once development plan for this new area is in place I don’t understand what’s the need of taking Amenity Space from every piece of land? As Development plan does have all the necessary reservations for such infrastructure requirements of the city!

Any ways there is no argument in front of Govt so let’s stick to the fact of giving 15% of land for Amenity Space but then whose responsibility is It to see that these spaces gets used for the purposes they have been kept for? Joke is till now hundreds of such Amenity Spaces are already in possession of PMC & yet to my knowledge hardly any space has been actually put in use for any such building.

And now we read the news that some of such spaces will be used by PMC to dump the material from Encroachment action which PMC takes against illegal traders on roads! Well nothing wrong as its PMC’s owned space & they can use it but had the rulers thought that its  Public ownership & the use should be strictly done keeping that front in mind! We all know how the dumping of such material is done & how filthy & shabby such dump yards eventually becomes! Was this meant while acquiring Amenity Spaces? Who will be responsible for the disturbance which the surrounding residents around such dumping yards will face? And why no leaders in the PMC raise any voice for putting such spaces for the use they have been reserved for? On one hand Govt cries foul for not having enough money for infrastructural projects & on other hand they have millions of rupees worth land in possession which are being used for dumping material!

When our rulers can hurriedly decide to use the reserved land for such useless purposes then agreed, they have power & authority to do so but then why not use the same power & authority for utilizing the land for many good purposes? This is the question which comes to a common man like me. Right now the city is lacking on many basic infrastructural fronts, for e.g. right from parking of  PMPML busses which presently at night are parked all along the roads to good medical facilities across the city for the needy ones, many things this city needs & on urgent basis. Why can’t PMC publish the proposed plan for development of all the Amenity Spaces in its possession & start developing it with the concerned developer itself? They can pay him directly or pay in form of TDR for such construction. This will at least ensure the proper use of the Amenity Space as well the city will get much needed infrastructural facilities also!

And this issue is very closely related to prices of real estate also, because home prices where all the infrastructure is developed are very high & if we can utilize all the Amenity Spaces for proper purpose then a balanced well distributed social infrastructure will get developed all over the city; eventually helping the prices of homes in & around the city also getting affordable to common man. And for this there has to be strong awareness as well voice raising from all the segment of the society, so as our rulers will have to listen it & do something good about use of Amenity Spaces & do it fast! As Krier has said a good city isn’t accident but outcome of a planned effort & every one of us has a responsibility towards that effort to make it a good city or else we don’t deserve to be citizen of our beloved city! 

Remember today it’s Amenity Space, tomorrow the whole city will become just a dumping place & then it will be too late & we will have to blame ourselves only for that outcome!


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Financing a Home!







Owning a home is a keystone of wealth - both financial affluence and emotional security....Suze Orman


Susan Lynn "Suze" Orman is an American author, financial adviser, motivational speaker, and television host for finance related programs. And she has picked the exact essence that why people buy home & why home finance is the dearest to banks amongst all segments of financing!
Though I am not a bit of a finance person & sure I am not the only one who don’t understands it, rather millions in these country who slogs for hours under the name of various jobs, touch the finance word only for two things; one is while buying a vehicle & another is while buying their home! In recent economic slump, well I don’t actually know what it means but that’s what all the media is screaming so used the phrase. Two news made headlines about finance last week, one was about automobile finance & another was about guide line by Reserve Bank for home finance! Automobile isn’t our topic so let’s skip that but home finance is something we can’t ignore, though auto finance is also in a way impact on planning of homes or projects but that’s different subject , so we will talk about it sometime next!

Before discussing about the latest guidelines or norms whatever you call for home finance, let’s understand the scene in real estate on that front from a commoner's eye. Not very long back i.e. in late 80's to early 90', when home finance players were very few i.e. just names like HDFC, LIC housing finance or Diwan Housing were few of the names. Nationalize Banks were not much keen about this segment. Finance to the builders was a taboo then also, just like it is today! The amount of finance given for flat buying was also as meager as 60%-70% of the home price. To get the loan proposal sanctioned was difficult than climbing Mount Everest & disbursement was returning back safely from Mount Everest! The entire procedure used to take months even year sometimes. The criteria’s were extremely stringent about eligibility for the loans & mostly either Govt servants or Large Corporate Co's employees only were able to fulfill the criteria’s, restricting the customer base of real estate to a small segment. 

But by start of 2000 economy opened up a lot & every financial institute realized the importance of housing finance segment & its huge potential. Nationalize Banks like State Bank & others entered in the ring & so the private players ICICI & others with big funds for lending on this segment. Obliviously what happened in Mobile sector got reflected in the housing finance sector benefiting the customer as because the competition right from the reduced rate of interests too relaxing loan eligibility criteria’s many offers are given to widen the customer base. Out of such all schemes the major hurdle was customers own contribution towards the home. As the new breed of flat buyers was majority young as in compare to in 90's, their savings too were less & very few could qualify the criteria of paying 30%-40% of their share out of total costs. So the bar was lowered & in some cases its gone as below as 5%, means you have to pay only 5% of home price & rest will be taken care by the financial institute! No reason home finance became the dearest of all with such type of schemes, as still in our country home is looked after with sentiment & not just a commodity! And in lieu the bank is mortgaging the entire home for their loan amount however small it may be! And with ever increasing population & land being same, the property prices kept rising such was the trend, which will continue in future too. Means the assets which have been mortgaged by the financial institute keeps appreciating, in nutshell it’s the safest bait one can have! Then there were schemes like Advanced Payment by virtue of which the banks were to pay all the payment of most of the payment to the developer in advance & your EMI i.e. Equated Monthly Installments, starts immediately after your disbursement. This in regular case was to start only after completion certificate, so if the project completion time is two years then those two years the customer used to end up paying only interest on the disbursed amount, which in a way was loss to him! Here in simple words for a non finance person like me, EMI means repayment of capitol amount of the loan. This scheme was dearer to the developer also as he used to get all the money upfront for his use. One thing I have never understood then & even now also, if every financial institute is so keen on financing the home buyer, why they don’t finance the developer in itself? Still today no bank gives finance for land buying neither real estate is in priority segment. And it’s the land which is like a raw material for this industry has the main costing part of any project. Naturally the builder has to take help of outside finance at very high rate & to avoid this he has to relay in such schemes like advanced home finance. So the solution was like win-win situation for all involved i.e. the developer, the client & the lender!

And here is where it seems the things went overboard, which has seen the recent guide lines. There were few things which were not considered in the advanced payment scheme of home finance & they are what if the builder doesn’t get enough flat bookings? Means not enough to fund the project & because of which he is unable to complete the project in time? Or what if there is some legal problem hampering the project work or what if the builder didn’t use the advance disbursement for the project which he has got for & use it for some other proposal & the project which his clients has been financed for lands in to trouble?

I think that’s the main reason why RBI has raised a stick for advanced finance schemes & on the prima-fascia nothing wrong with it but then as usual are we not avoiding the main problem? First of all we have to decide why we are financing home buyers, no doubt to make some money but that should not be the only target. Home is an essential commodity for millions of this country & a basic need as well right of living also. So the target should be making a home affordable to the real needy ones & the policies should be worked out accordingly. Earlier the home finance was only for riches but it’s because of a bit liberal policies it was in capacity of a common man also & that’s why many could buy the homes in recent past. Let’s not over look this reality & if we are not going to finance the developers for land & not giving priority status to real estate then how the homes are going to be affordable & from where the end user is going to make arrangements of finance is the question we should ask to RBI!
Here cant we think of a safer option or checking the track record of the developer on front of fulfilling commitments about completing of the project & then ask the banks to have advance disbursement finance schemes? Also why can’t RBI take real estate in priority finance segment as homes are required in large numbers & make the policies accordingly. This will definitely take care of home finance in end as such advance disbursement schemes won’t be required if developer has enough funding for his own. Need of the time is to define such policies & have proper control to see that the funds allocated for the projects are being used for that project only & in proper manner. Instead with present directives it’s unjust with those who are doing their business by following all rules & regulations & with committed mind!  

As I have always said, no rules or policy should be made by considering all are guilty for breaking the law, but the end result should be kept in mind as what outcome we want from making any such law or the policy. This again has not happened & it is bound to have a big negative impact on already bed ridden real estate industry. On one hand it’s facing many lacuna's on Local as well State policy decisions for Housing & Urban Development & now if there won’t be backing up on even finance level then how we expect to fulfill the ever increasing demand of homes, especially in the Metros?

It’s high time to give a serious thought for the real estate or the dream of common man for his home will remain a dream only & we all will be the reason for that!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com