Hyderabad, July 14: Describing fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya as 'smart', Union minister Jual Oram on Friday advised scheduled castes and tribes to become smart enough to avail bank loans to become successful entrepreneurs.
The minister however later regretted his statement and said that he accidentally took Mallya's name. I should not have taken that name, it was my mistake he later said.
Speaking at the maiden National Tribal Entrepreneurs Conclave 2018, here, the Minister for Tribal Welfare said the government would encourage tribal entrepreneurs through various schemes.
He said though people belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes get reservation in education, jobs and politics, the disadvantage is that they are not "treated" on par with others in terms of knowledge and talent.
"We should become entrepreneurs, we should become intelligent. We should become smart. We should gain information. Information is power. Those who possess information, they control power," he said.
He then went on to say, "You people criticise Vijay Mallya. But what is Vijay Mallya? He is smart. He employed some intelligent people. He did something here and there with bankers, politicians, government."
"He bought them. Who prevented you (from being smart)? Who asked Adivasis not to influence the system? Who prevented you from influencing bankers," Oram asked.
Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, is currently undergoing an extradition trial in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges by Indian authorities.
The minister said some of the SC and ST people shy away from disclosing their title or surname fearing disparity in society.
The minister advised them not to do so and told them that these communities would also thrive running businesses.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes that SC and STs should no longer remain as job-seekers. But they should become job givers. We should fulfil his wish. I as a minister (am) determined on that.
"We will encourage tribal entrepreneurs though various schemes from the government," he added.
More than 1000 tribal entrepreneurs from across the country participated in the NTEC 2018, which was organised by Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.