1. Introduction
  2. Biodata
  3. Essential books for CAPF/CPF Exam
  4. Opinion on Monthly Magazines
  5. Hindi Medium Aspirants
  6. Essay Writing
  7. GS (Mains) of CSM-2012
  8. Time  Management
  9. Physical Test
  10. CPF Interview
  11. Service Preference
  12. Message to Aspirants
  13. Bogus marketing propaganda


Q. Tell us something about yourself. When and why did you enter in the competitive exam field?

I was born in a farmer family in one of the most backward districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Having seen the huge impact of bureaucrats/police personnel on lives of fellow villagers and their ability to transform their miserable lives, I was desperate to go into services.

During graduation, the romanticism faded and paved way for bitter truths but all of these made me more and more inclined towards a civil services career.

I started preparing lightly in my pre-final year and dedicated myself fully after passing out.


Name Kartikeya Mishra
Exam Central Police Forces (Asst.Commandant)-2011
Rank 4
Age 24
City Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh
Schooling (Medium) Hindi
Graduation /PG including name of colleges B.Tech (EC) From SRMS college of Engg & Technology (Affiliated to UP Technical University) 2010
Are you a working professional? (yes/no) No
Details of other competitive exams that you appeared in? CSE 2011 (faced interview, not selected finally) wrote CSM 2012, writing UPPCS Mains 2012.
Details of coaching for any competitive exam (if joined) Nirman IAS, Delhi— GS (CSM-2011)
Patanjali Classes—    Philosophy (CSM 2011) No coaching for 2012.
Hobbies, Extra Curricular Activities, Achievements etc. Played in divisional cricket team for Vinoo Mankad Trophy, won prizes for debate and extempore at state and national level events, Blogging in Hindi since 2008, scored 5th rank in state highschool merit list.
Do you have any NCC ‘B’ or ‘C’ Certificates? Yes/No No

Essential books for CAPF/CPF Exam

Q. List of Essential books/ tips for success in the CPF written exam?

The less you read, the better. But few basic books are necessary to give you a command over traditional portions. Eg

Indian Polity– Laxmikanth, OLD Political Science NCERT for 11th and 12th.

Indian History– Grover and Grover, Bipan Chandra (Not particularly useful for MCQ but gives a good insight into our Freedom Struggle). For ancient and medieval portion, NCERT is good. But my personal opinion is that Non-Backgrounders should steer clear  the later two portions. It’s simply ineffective on time-cost-benefit scale.

Geography– Mahesh Barnwal covers this topic most comprehensively (I Appeared with hindi medium but  must admit that this is one of the very few topics in which hindi material is as good as anyone ). Barnwal covers all aspects so no need of NCERT here.

Economics– For strange reasons, this all weather favorite of UPSC undergoes a Step-motherly treatment in CPF exam. But for those who prepare for all exams simultaneously can’t afford to miss this portion. Get your concepts cleared with NCERT, Lal & Lal/Dutta & Sundaram, don’t waste time and energy in statistical details here. The real preparation lies beyond the books. ECONOMIC SURVEY IS A MUST READ. Most of the Government programs and policies asked in UPSC exams are taken from here. It’s sustainable development, human development, india and world economy, etc. chapters are most important ones. Also, lot of raw material is dispersed here and there in the boxes, useful for essay, interview etc. You can afford to spend 10 full days on soft copy of Survey, highlighting and taking notes. Believe me, it’s worthier than all trashcan magazines and readymade material available in the Bazaar. As per stats are concerned, it’s not important to gulp down ‘em. Important is the trend, point of inflexions in the trends, and any unusual rise/fall and reason regarding that. Also, Mrunal is doing great service to miserable lives of Aspiranto Sapiens in this particular portion. For those, who are preparing for CPF only, can skip this portion or use Economy Special of Pratiyogita Darpan (Alert- It comprises of many misprints and contradictory data, use wisely)

International Relations– World Focus magazine, IDSA Website, Mrunal, B. Raman’s blog and Daily Newspaper Notes.

Science and Tech– NCERT for class 8,9,10 (For Non-Science Backgrounders ), For science background Janta, simply remember nostalgic 10+2 days.. J

Alas, above all helps about 30% only.. Rest preparation is highly customized. The Most Significant portion of preparation is Daily News Paper reading and making notes. The Hindu was considered Holy Bible of UPSC, but of-late it’s left leaning has crept not only into editorials and Op-ED but in News also. So don’t weigh a News by the Footage given to it by The Hindu. The Indian Express is devoid of Ideological leaning, but sometimes it’s tone becomes too cynical and too alarmist to digest. For a novice reader, being influenced by anyone can spell doom. So extreme caution is needed. But both are equally good and your true companion. PIB wesite, particularly it’s ‘Features’ section is awesome and need regular follow up.

Opinion on Monthly Magazines

My personal opinion is that Monthly magazines like Chronicle, Pratiyogita Darpan, Civil Services Times are not needed if one follows the newpaper and aforesaid sites regularly and honestly. Also these magazines have a tendency to pile up, which creates guilty feeling and negative vibrations in study room. I haven’t read a single magazine since Sept’ 2010. But for working professionals, it won’t be possible to allot 2-3 hours a day reading, surfing, making notes.. So they can complement their notes at the end of the month by any magazine.

Hindi Medium Aspirants

One final request to fellow Hindi Medium aspirants—DO NOT READ ANY HINDI NEWSPAPER. The best of them is not worth the worst of these. Hindi Newspapers have extreme political orientations, have no differentiation between News and entertainment.. You can find more footage to Kate Middleton than Mohammed Morsy and “China mein Kutte ki sawdhani se pakda gaya chor” as their lead international story. They are Paid News Addas, nothing else. If you wish to read newspaper, read English.. If you can’t read English, learn it.. If you are stubborn to not learn it/you are hindi lover then sorry, UPSC is not your cup of tea. So Love it or Leave it.

Q. If you’ve seen the paper of CPF-2012, what’s your review/opinion on it?

More or Less same as last year paper(on the scale of difficulty).. It is clear that preparation for CPF is same as preparing for CSP. So the same dedication and diligence is needed.. One should try to score as much as possible in Paper-1. You can qualify for PET on the basis of merely 45-50 odd questions, but 70+ is must for a secure place in Merit list. You can’t count on Interview because it’s very much You-Miss-I-Hit kind of game.

Essay Writing

Q. How did you prepare for the essay? What Essay did you write in the CPF-2011 exam. Provide the keypoint/summery/gist of your essay.

My hindi language is fairly good since school days, thanks to participation in Debate/Essay competitions. Also, I have been blogging in hindi since 2008. So language was never a matter of concern for me. Therefore I haven’t prepared for essay in any of my three exams.

I attempted “Impact of modern telecommunication means on Internal Security”. I connected it to the change in television viewership pattern since globalization and latent ability of off-shore uplinked programs to affect our security culture. I also gave excerpts about alleged links between Etisalat and ISI, and ties between Huawei and Chinese Military.

Q. What Essay did you write in CSM-2012? Provide the keypoint/summery/gist of your essay.

I wrote- “Science and Mysticism”. It revolved around the domain separation of both, and need for co-existence of both. I quoted from lives of Vivekananda, Paramhansa, Mira, Kabir and tried to show the inability of science to explain the mystic deeds of them. I tried to bring out the scientific lessons in many vedic discourses. I quoted a story in Upanishads of Gargi-Yajnavalkya debate regarding time-space continuum and tried to strike parallels with Einstenian notion of the same. I summed it up with Emmanuel Kant’s Numena-Phenomena distinction, of which the former is Mysticism’s domain while the later is of Science’s.

GS (Mains) of CSM-2012

Q. What is your review/opinion on the General Studies and Optional papers of CSM-2012?

The Papers have established the fact that the only thing predictable about the UPSC is that it’s unpredictable. For last three years It has been setting the GS paper for objective marking with especial emphasis on finer details. This time it asked big questions, needing thorough analysis and putting the burden on the aspirant to put in place relevant information wherever necessary. Questions were of such nature that everybody has something to write, but the quality of individual answer will be deciding factor in fetching marks. I have seen your post regarding analysis of GS paper and agree with it in most of the parts. Optional papers were more or less same to the last year, but Public Administration Paper-1 was a brainstormer. The general feeling is that UPSC is exploring the untraveled paths in the syllabus. Philosophy Paper-1 was extremely lengthy. In History, they kept up with the annual surprise package for Mapping question.

Time  Management

Q. During the preparation, every aspirant goes through mood swings. So, how did you manage the mood, motivation, tempo, momentum during this journey? On an average, how many hours do you study per day?

Yes. There are enough mood swings affecting everybody. When you decide to prepare full time, you should be ready to face these hardships like seasonal cold and fever. They affect everybody, yet the intensity and period differs person to person. There will be times, when your mind puts down it’s weapons and flatly refuses your any request to concentrate on studies. Don’t panic. Let the blue phase pass on. Just try not to engulfed into it. Watch movies, loaf around, pick up a novel, attend somebody’s wedding, spend time with girlfriend… Do whatever, just pass this phase without slightest worry for the study. And wait for the opposite peak of this sinusoidal wave of mood swing. At this peak, you will feel positively charged, alert and your mind responds quickly to your calls. Reap this period to fullest extent possible. Everybody gets this golden period. If this period lasts about a month and you succeed in reaping it, you will qualify the next exam, irrespective of what you have done in last few months. Find what turns your brain on. For some people it is patriotic songs, for some it is post dinner walk in the park adjacent to girl’s hostel. Whatever the switch is, use it at right times. I was never a diligent, laborious student so I usually studied 6-8 hours. But there are times in that golden period when the tenure went to 15-16 hours too.(But for a very short time, maybe few weeks)

Physical Test

Q. To pass Physical Efficiency Tests (PET), what preparation did you do at home? How hard is the fitness test?

I was a regular cricketer till High School. Then after studies left no time at all for sports. During graduation, I worked out almost none. So the first day in field for PET preparation(20 odd days before the PET) was forgettable and I clocked about 10 minutes for 800 meters. But I relied on muscle memory and 15 days of running (2 Km a day) brought me within the clocks. One day prior to the tests, I worked exclusively for long jump(which is toughest part of PET, because of people not knowing the technique). For non-regular sportsperson, it is mandatory not to push their bodies too far in first few days to avoid sudden injury. Fitness test is of medium toughness but it is conducted in the month of June often starting in the afternoon so it becomes a nightmare once the cloud cover is not there.

CPF Interview

Q. How did you prepare for the CPF-interview: Please Provide the list of questions asked (and if possible, the answers as well). And any tips for future aspirants.

I had a UPSC interview experience in CSE-2011 few months back, so I didn’t prepared for this interview. I had decided not to be politically correct and too diplomatic in my approach, rather be blunt. My board was of Manbir Singh Sir’s. I was asked about my career progression, surveillance and tracking of an e-mail sent via a open Wi-Fi, conflict in Libya and killing of Christopher Stevenson, innocence of muslims, naxalism v/s Islamic terrorism, service preference, role of BSF, and lots of philosophical questions like what is creativity, nothingness, self-audit etc. There were some informative questions regarding national and international cities on the riverbanks, domestic sports structure etc. It was first interview of the day and lasted about 40 minutes.

No preparation is needed for interview. Learn small courtesies, be brave, don’t hesitate to speak out, don’t be too diplomatic, take stands wherever necessary, and forget the usual fable that UPSC doesn’t want to listen criticism of government.

Q. How was interview: normal, stress, mixed? Did they ask any uncomfortable/tough/difficult questions, if yes how did you answer them?

My interview was mixed with a co-operating chairman. Questions about Islamic terrorism and Innocense of Muslims youtube controversy were slightly uncomfortable to speak freely. Mood of the board became slightly tensed then, but it was back on track few minutes later. One particularly important thing was that in the very beginning Manbir sir insisted that I speak in English disregarding my preference of Hindi. Whole interview went on English with the Chairman once appreciating my language and telling why UPSC wants candidates to speak in English. At this point, It looked like an informal dialogue rather than a formal interview.
Q. if you’ve received the marksheet, please share it.

Not yet.

Q. When you look back in past, what do you think was the secret ingredient for this success- particulalry the All India 4th Rank.

I was an intelligent yet careless student till class 8th. I was to change the school in class 9th and didn’t study well for the entrance exam. I failed to qualify for a single school and it was August without me getting admission. My father approached a few politicians but in vain. This time was extremely troubling for our family. Somehow I managed to get admission in Government Inter College, which was notorious for crime and student politics. My father didn’t scold me then, he just maintained a haunting silence. This combined with the zealous guidance of a young principal Dr. OP Rai striving to change the image of the school completely changed my way of looking at the studies.

Service Preference

Q. What was your service preference order (CRPF>CISF>SSB etc) and why did you pick up the particular order?


There was no specific reason for the order. I put CISF at first place after advice from friends and guides. I have interest in policing so more important was the service, not the particular force.

Q. If you were not selected, what was your career backup plan?

No definite plan as of now. Probably would’ve gone back to the village, tried social work and would’ve entered politics.

Message to Aspirants

Q. Through this journey, what wisdom have you gained about competition and life? What is your message to the future aspirants-of any competitive exam?

I once came to listen Late Steve Jobs’ convocation speech given at MIT(probably). He very beautifully told about pattern of life which can be understood only by looking back at the past, connecting the dots. I firmly believe that we are all part of a grand design and the Almighty has a specific role for all of us to play. He has plans for everybody, and we all get our dues according to this very plan. One should not lose hope when he falters or should not become too happy when he gets something. When and What would we get is decided according to the plan(prarabdha) and our deeds(purushartha). We are blessed to get a role on this stage and should strive to perform our best. Competition is all about conditioning of Mind-Body-Soul according to the needs of the job. You should start to eat, drink, walk, talk, sleep, arise like a serving officer. Once you get conditioned, the battle is half won.
Q. Behind every topper are many people who stood by him/her during those uncertain times when he/she was merely an ‘aspirant’. Would you like to tell the world, who were those people in your case? Any specific incidence that you would like to share with the readers?

My mother, humbly educated, who braved people’s sarcasm and left paternal (village) home for 14 years for study of her children and settled in totally unknown and hostile city without any male guardian. Father, who remained in the village and fought hard to make the ends meet, never interfered in our plans for career and gave us space for independent decisions. Bhaiya, who protected me from all the hardships he faced and not only never lost faith in me, but brought me out of the pit when I myself had lost faith in my abilities. Sister, who took all the bad luck from me to her. Prashant, Praveen, Vivek, Pankaj, Ankit who stood by me through all weathers. My room partner  Wafi, who helped like younger brother during preparation. Other roommate Vivek (Rank 40) to complement one-another’s preparation. College juniors Sabu and Deepesh who always motivated me and Jagriti, who gave me emotional backing of a true soul-friend.

When my CSE-2011 final result came, I was totally devastated. I seldom talk to my father over the phone. He called and said- “Son, We are farmers.. We sow the seed, irrigate, give fertilizers, and just wait for months. We don’t know what’s in heaven till the crop comes to our silos.. Sometimes it’s disaster, no crop at all. But we, the farmer never cry, we just plough the farm for next sowing” This is my father’s lesson to me. This is my lesson to fellow aspirants.

Bogus marketing propaganda

Q. You’re well aware of the golden and the most sacred rule of conducting Topper’s interview. Last question has to be about bogus marketing propaganda. So, Did you use Mrunal.org for your preparation and if yes, how did it help you?  And you can even reply “No”. I’ll publish your answer as it is. (Unlike certain Competitive magazines who distort the answers after taking the Toppers’ interview hehehe.)

No.. I haven’t heard the name of any Mrunal.. (Kidding)

I’ve been following Mrunal since Feb 2012 and it helped me a lot in CSP and CSM-2012. It’s true that not many direct questions in CSM-2012 were from the website, but your material worked as fodder in many questions in not only GS but my first optional Public Administration too. The best thing about your any write-up is that it covers almost all aspects of the matter in hand. I strongly recommend Mrunal for every serious aspirant especially in Economy, IR and Yearbook sections.