Kumar Gera Chairman, Gera Development
For many years, right from my early start which was in 1972, a road block came up which was in 1976 where the Urban Land Ceiling Act came into force in the country. It blocked growth of the industry and it was as late as almost 20 years later that the Urban Land Ceiling Act was removed by the Government of India.
Profits were not made by value-addition in those days but, by getting NOCs from the Government. And that was a very sad period in this industry. Through my good offices, I was highly instrumental in getting the Urban Land Ceiling Act repealed in the country. Ram Jethmalani was the minister for both Urban Development as well as for Law and Judiciary and because of my close equation with him, I was able to convince him that this needed to be removed as were many others who had by then realized that this enactment was a major road block to the growth and prosperity in the real estate space.
In fact, I must admit, my years at the Junior Chamber International impacted my life hugely. I developed as an individual, it was a let’s say a replacement of somebody who says that I went to Harvard and Yale and MIT. I did not. I just went to the College of Engineering in Poona. But, the exposure in the Junior Chamber movement literally molded me in many, many ways.
In the 70s, 80s and the 90s, nobody talked about real estate. Housing was not a subject. There was never a mention in the budget about housing. All these things started coming out from the National Housing Policy and so on. The impact on GDP, the forward and backward linkages and the various needs from the housing policy and the changes that is required. There were two housing policies that I was involved with in a gap of 5 – 6 years.
If you want to do something you will find a way, you will create the time, you will budget the time, you will manage the time. You will find that punctuality is something that the busiest people are the best at.
When I spent nine years as the President of PBAP (Promoters and Builders Association) as it was called then, I realized that there were lots of things lacking in the real estate industry in India. In one of the PBAP conferences, I pointed out that we do not have a national body like CII, FICCI, Gems and Jewelry National Body Association and Builders Association of India. So in 1999, CREDAI was formed. My involvement in setting CREDAI to happen impacted my own company hugely because it took up a lot of my time but I was passionate about it because I felt that there need to be better standards across the country.
Similarly, the one thing that I can say with total clarity and total belief is that I changed the way ‘Skill Development’ is done for the ‘Construction Industry’ across the country. The model that was created at my instance which is working now is that you cannot teach a mason in a classroom in an ITI. The answer was to do it at the Site. But, you already have the carpenters and the masons and the plumbers working there so then what do you do? It is the realization that all these people work with a helper. So the question is can we train the helpers to become masons? Can we raise their levels?
You require trainers, you require organizations to co-operate and contractors to realize that we’re moving our helpers into the next stage and getting other unskilled workers to come in their place to be trained later. The model has worked in NSDC and when I was director in the NSDC I got a grant of 19 Crores for Poona to start Kushal.
Sports teach you about winning and losing. It teaches you to win with grace and loose without losing face. And it teaches you that you will not win every time. So, that’s the beauty of sports. You appreciate and compliment the guy that beats you. I swim for fun and I play golf quite regularly, at least once or twice a week and I play 18 holes and I walk it. I haven’t got time is one of the lamest, feeblest excuses that people make to themselves. You have to create time. People use that as a crutch.
It is rightly said, the higher you go, the further you see. So, each step that a person takes higher up, his vision changes, his line of sight changes. You change as you go along as long as your mind is open to this change and altering the vision.