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King Was Dhritarashtra But Decisions Were Made By Duryodhana – We See This With Many Modern Governments

The statement "King Was Dhritarashtra But Decisions Were Made By Duryodhana – We See This With Many Modern Governments" draws a parallel between the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and contemporary political dynamics. This analogy can be expanded to explore how the de facto power structures often differ from the official or de jure leadership in modern governance. Here’s an expanded analysis:

The Context of the Mahabharata

In the Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra is the blind king of Hastinapura. Despite holding the throne, he is heavily influenced by his son, Duryodhana. Duryodhana's ambitions and decisions drive the kingdom’s policies, leading to significant conflict and ultimately the great war of Kurukshetra.

Modern Governments and Shadow Leadership

1. Figurehead Leaders and Actual Decision-Makers

Definition: In many modern governments, the official leader (such as a president or prime minister) may not hold the real power. Instead, advisors, cabinet members, or other influential figures might be the ones making critical decisions.


Russia: Some argue that while Dmitry Medvedev served as President, Vladimir Putin, who was Prime Minister at the time, continued to wield significant influence over government policies.

United States: Various administrations have seen powerful advisors or vice presidents, such as Dick Cheney during George W. Bush's presidency, playing key roles in decision-making.

India: Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister But decisions are made by the Gandhi family.

2. Political Parties and Influence

Party Influence: In parliamentary systems, the ruling party or coalition often holds significant sway over the leader's decisions. The leader may act more as a spokesperson or symbolic figure while the party dictates policies.


United Kingdom: Prime Ministers often depend heavily on their party’s stance. Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May faced immense pressure from their parties, impacting their decision-making abilities.

3. External Influences

Lobbyists and Interest Groups: These groups can have substantial influence over government decisions, sometimes overshadowing the elected officials.


United States: The influence of lobbyists and special interest groups on Congress and the President is well-documented, affecting legislation and policy directions.

European Union: Various interest groups and corporations have a strong influence on the policies and regulations implemented by the EU.

Implications for Governance

1. Accountability Issues

When the real decision-makers are not the official leaders, it becomes challenging to hold the right people accountable. This can lead to governance issues and public distrust.

2. Transparency Concerns

A lack of transparency about who is truly making decisions can undermine democratic processes and erode public confidence in the government.

3. Policy Coherence

If there is a disconnect between the official leaders and the actual decision-makers, policies may lack coherence and consistency, leading to ineffective governance.

Drawing parallels between Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana in the Mahabharata and modern governments highlights the complexities of power dynamics. Official leaders may not always be the true decision-makers, leading to various challenges in accountability, transparency, and effective governance. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for fostering more transparent and accountable political systems.