Do you get time in CBI to prepare for UPSC?

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In the last few years, SSC has become one hot cake everybody wants a pie off. It has also become the fallback option for UPSC aspirants who take up a job in SSC and then hope to prepare for UPSC while earning at the same time.

It has been a perpetual question of UPSC aspirants whether you get enough time to prepare for UPSC while working in CBI. Well, I have worked there for about two and a half years and I know from my own experience that the answer is an emphatic No.

It is practically unlikely that you will get time to prepare for UPSC in CBI.

In CBI, your best shot is to prepare while you are under training, and that’s not a cakewalk either. CBI training is held for 8 months which has a very tight schedule. You will have to devote your time to CBI from 5 am to 8 pm. You are free to do whatever you want after 8 pm. This is repeated 6 days a week until the completion of training.

Suppose you have your dinner by 8.30 PM and get back to your study table by 8.45pm, you will study till 1 PM but not later than that since you have to wake up at 5 am for the next day. This is when you have an exceptional mental and physical strength since the physical activities of the morning and the 7 hours classes daily sap your energy. If you muster such strength, you can squeeze in 4 hours of study every day.

Can you prepare for UPSC in CBI
You will be exhausted at the end of the day.

Add to this the holiday on Sunday. If you can do this religiously, then maybe you can prepare for UPSC but this is too utopian a scenario since it assumes that you are a machine with the mechanical body parts. (On a side note, this is not undoable; one of the cadets of our batch did exactly that and cleared the UPSC mains while being in CBI training.) 

Once you join CBI branches, your schedule goes haywire and it becomes extremely difficult to maintain a fixed routine. If you are posted in Delhi, you can safely forget to ever prepare for UPSC unless you are a woman. Since Delhi is a large sprawling city where your daily commute alone takes more than 2.5 hours, it becomes near impossible to make time for UPSC. In Delhi, you will be busy from 8.15 am to 7.30 pm on a normal day when you don’t go in the field. Delhi is the worst place to be in CBI if you are preparing for UPSC. Another problem which makes Delhi a nightmare is the acute resource crunch. Its another fact that 75% of your batch strength will be posted in Delhi city alone since Delhi houses the largest no. of CBI personnel.

Although the availability of free time depends on the branch in which you are posted. Most of the branches are heavily overloaded with work. Some of the branches which are absolutely no-no for UPSC are the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB), Special Crime Branch (SCB) and the Special Unit (SU)

ACBs are the most overworked branches where you will have to frequently visit your city for verifications, inquiries, trap cases and to attend the courts. (There are 8 courts in Delhi including the Supreme Court and the High Court). In Special Crime Branch (SCB), you may have to be on tour for up to 2 months at a stretch. You will frequently be on tour. It is unlikely that you will get to prepare for UPSC while you are on the train or in another city for verifications. In the Special Unit branch, your timings will be highly irregular. You may have to keep a watch on a building/house/premise for up to 12 hours at a stretch. All these conditions are highly inconducive to you UPSC preparation.

The picture is not bright in other branches either. As a sub-inspector, you are allocated 15-30 cases for pairavi in which you may have to attend the respective courts on the date of hearing. The only branch which doesn’t involve such field visits and which has a relatively peaceful work-life balance is the Interpol. But the Interpol is so small a branch that it is extremely unlikely that you will ever be posted in that branch, not even if you request for the same.

At the end of the day, when you reach home, you will be so exhausted mentally as well as physically that it will need a superhuman mental effort to drag yourself to your study table and sit there for 3 or more hours. Three of my friends couldn’t do it so they left CBI and joined DA instead. And they couldn’t be happier. No job beats Divisional Accountant in CAG when it comes to preparing for UPSC.

If someone encourages to join CBI (for UPSC preparation) and says that “where there is a will, there is a way” or any other pep talk, please don’t listen to that crap. It’s a fact that CBI Job is not conducive to UPSC preparation. Its another fact that if you get ‘X’ hours of study time in CBI, you will get ‘2X’ hours in the Income Tax Department and ‘3X’  hours in Divisional Accountant. Be practical and discard these rubbish utopian statements. I agree that a strong-will will find its way but not everybody has that will. Some people need time and patience to find their way.

Although joining CBI as a fallback option and doing preparation for UPSC is not such a bad idea since the recent introduction of the Direct DySP exam conducted by UPSC. The level of the exam is high and many questions are asked from the UPSC civil services syllabus. Even if you don’t get selected in the UPSC exam (God forbid!), you will always have a better shot at the Direct DySP exam and can become DySP jumping past the barrier of 15 years (as Inspector) in one stroke.

Direct DySP exam.
Direct DySP exam can have you cross the hurdle of 15 years

One of the sub-inspector ladies of our branch was preparing for UPSC for last 4 years; Although she couldn’t clear the UPSC civils, she did qualify the direct DySP exam. Career prospects are pretty high after that and she will definitely retire at least as a Jt. Director in CBI (Equivalent to IG of the local police).

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Thanks for reading. Good luck and best wishes.

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