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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th August 2022

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  • August 15, 2022
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(PRELIMS & MAINS Focus)


India adds 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar Sites

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Environment

In News: India adds 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites covering an area of 13,26,677 ha in the country in the 75th year of Independence.

  • The 11 new sites include: Four sites in Tamil Nadu, Three in Odisha, Two in Jammu & Kashmir and One each in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • Designation of these sites would help in conservation and management of wetlands and wise use of their resources.

  • India is one of the Contracting Parties to Ramsar Convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.
  • India signed it on 1st Feb 1982.
  • During 1982 to 2013, a total of 26 sites were added to the list of Ramsar sites, however, during 2014 to 2022, the country has added 49 new wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites.
  • Tamil Nadu has maximum no. of Ramsar sites (14 nos), followed by UP which has 10 nos. of Ramsar sites.

New Ramsar Sites

  • Odisha – Tampara Lake and Hirakud Reservoir, Ansupa Lake
  • Madhya Pradesh – Yashwant Sagar
  • Tamil Nadu – Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary, Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex, Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary and Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary
  • Maharashtra – Thane Creek
  • Jammu and Kashmir – Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve and Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve

Must Read: India Designates 5 New Ramsar Sites + Four more Ramsar Sites

Source: Pib.Gov

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following pairs: (2022)

Wetland/Lake:                                Location

  1. Hokera Wetland Punjab
  2. Renuka Wetland Himachal Pradesh
  3. Rudrasagar Lake Tripura
  4. Sasthamkotta Lake Tamil Nadu

How many pairs given above are correctly matched?

  1. Only one pair
  2. Only two pairs
  3. Only three pairs
  4. All four pairs

Q.2) Consider the following statements: (2019)

  1. Under Ramsar Convention, it is mandatory on the part of the Government of India to protect and conserve all the wetlands in the territory of India.
  2. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 were framed by the Government of India based on the recommendations of Ramsar Convention.
  3. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 also encompass the drainage area or catchment regions of the wetlands as determined by the authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

PeVatrons

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science & Technology

In News: A study using 12 years of data from NASA’s Fermi telescope helped scientists understand PeVatrons.

  • PeVatrons, the source of some of the highest energy particles that whip across our galaxy.
  • Streams of particles called cosmic rays travel at breakneck speeds around our galaxy and they also strike our planet’s atmosphere.
  • They typically consist of protons but sometimes also include atomic nuclei and electrons.
  • They all carry an electric charge, this means that their paths deviate and scramble as they go through our galaxy’s magnetic field.
  • This means that it is no longer which direction they originally came from, effectively masking their birthplace.
  • But when the particles that are part of cosmic rays collide with the gas near supernova remnants, they produce gamma rays; some of the highest-energy forms of radiation that exist.
  • These particles get trapped by the chaotic magnetic fields near supernova remnants.
  • They pass through the supernova’s shock wave multiple times and each time they do, they gain speed and energy.
  • Eventually, they can no longer be held by the supernova remnant and will caree off into deep space.
  • These particles are boosted to 10 times the energy that the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful man-made particle accelerator, can generate.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) If a major solar storm (solar flare) reaches the Earth, which of the following are the possible effects on the Earth? (2022)

  1. GPS and navigation systems could fail.
  2. Tsunamis could occur at equatorial regions.
  3. Power grids could be damaged.
  4. Intense auroras could occur over much of the Earth.
  5. Forest fires could take place over much of the planet.
  6. Orbits of the satellites could be disturbed
  7. Shortwave radio communication of the aircraft flying over polar regions could be interrupted.

Select the correct answer using the code given below;

  1. 1, 2, 4 and 5 only
  2. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 only
  3. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and


Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Geography (Places in News)

In News: Fighting in Ukraine has put an active nuclear plant at grave risk.

  • Repeated shelling inside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant complex over the past seven days has stirred new concerns, with Ukrainian and Western officials warning that the attacks heighten the risk of a nuclear accident.
  • Experts have repeatedly raised an alarm over the plant being in an active combat zone.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has underlined that the current situation poses a grave risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

The site

  • Located in southern Ukraine on the banks of Kakhovka reservoir on the Dnipro river, Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant is Europe’s largest, and 10th biggest in the world.
  • Geographically, the plant is located 200-km from Russia-annexed Crimea, and 500-odd km from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

Russian capture

  • Russia captured the plant site in early March and continues to control
  • As of now, the plant is run by Ukrainian staff, and ‘guarded’ by Russian troops.
  • Kyiv, according to Associated Press, has been planning a counteroffensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighbouring Kherson provinces.
  • However, Ukrainian forces controlling the area on the opposite bank from the nuclear plant have repeatedly faced Russian artillery fire from the other side.

Active threat

  • Moscow has been accused of using the nuclear plant as a shield to fire rockets to target Ukrainian positions.
  • Russia, on the other hand, blames Ukraine for shelling near the plant.
  • The threat of a nuclear disaster remains real with the plant housing active reactors and stored nuclear waste.

Global alarm

  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the situation could “lead to disaster”.
  • The IAEA has been seeking access to the plant for a while now, and utmost restraint.
  • Amid demands to turn the area into a demilitarized zone, the G7 group of nations have called on Russia to immediately exit the plant and hand its control back to Ukraine.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following pairs: (2022)

Region often mentioned in the news: Country.

  1. Anatolia: Turkey
  2. Amhara: Ethiopia.
  3. Cabo Delgado: Spain.
  4. Catalonia: Italy.

How many pairs given above are correctly matched?

  1. Only one pair
  2. Only two pairs
  3. Only three pairs
  4. All four pairs

India-Afghanistan

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (International Relations)

In News: Taliban asked India to complete its development projects in Afghanistan.

The statement said: “We are hopeful that with the upgrading of the diplomatic mission, we will move forward from the humanitarian aspect to development aspects. And in that area, our priority that we’ve also conveyed to the Indian side is that of the completion of some of the incomplete projects that India has done, as a first step”.

  • Shahtoot Dam in Kabul as one of the projects that the Taliban wanted India to complete.
  • The statement also included reviving connectivity through Iran’s Chabahar port. The Taliban regime is also keen to revive the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline

Background

  • India recently reopened its embassy in Kabul, a year after it was shut down and all personnel evacuated in the wake of the August 15, 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
  • India’s development assistance to Afghanistan is estimated to be worth well over $3 billion across 20 years, including key roads, dams, electricity transmission lines and substations, and schools and hospitals.

Must Read: India’s Engagement with Taliban + India must directly engage with Taliban 2.0

Source: Indian Express


Coastal Regulation Zone

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Current Affairs
  • Mains – GS 3 (Environment)

In News: the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India tabled a report in Parliament on whether steps taken by the Union Environment Ministry to conserve India’s coastal ecosystems have been successful.

  • The CAG frequently undertakes ‘performance audits’ of government programmes and ministries.
  • This latest report contains the observations from an audit of Conservation of Coastal Ecosystems from 2015-20.

What are the Centre’s obligations on conserving the coastline?

  • The government has issued notifications under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, to regulate activities along India’s coasts particularly regarding construction.
  • The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (CRZ) 2019, implemented by the Ministry, classifies the coastal area into different zones to manage infrastructure activities and regulate them.
  • The three institutions responsible for the implementation of the CRZ are the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA) at the Centre, the State/Union Territory Coastal Zone Management Authorities (SCZMAs/UTCZMAs) in every coastal State and Union Territory and the District Level Committees (DLCs) in every district that has a coastal stretch and where the CRZ notification is applicable.
  • These bodies examine if CRZ clearances granted by the government are as per procedure, if project developers once given the go-ahead are complying with conditions, and if the project development objectives under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP) are successful.
  • They also evaluate the measures taken up by the government towards achieving the targets under Sustainable Development Goals.

Why did the CAG undertake this audit?

  • The CAG has a constitutional mandate to investigate and report on publicly funded programmes.
  • The CAG conducted pre-audit studies and found that there were large-scale CRZ violations in the coastal stretches.
  • Incidences of illegal construction activities (reducing coastal space) and effluent discharges from local bodies, industries and aquaculture farms had been reported by the media and this prompted it to undertake a detailed investigation.

What did the audit find?

The audit pointed out various categories of violations.

  • For one, the Environment Ministry hadn’t notified NCZMA as a permanent body and it was being reconstituted every few years.
  • In the absence of defined membership, it was functioning as an ad-hoc body.
  • There were instances of the Expert Appraisal Committees — a committee of scientific experts and senior bureaucrats who evaluate the feasibility of an infrastructure project and its environmental consequences — not being present during project deliberations.
  • There were also instances of the members of the EAC being fewer than half of the total strength during the deliberations.
  • The SCZMA had not been reconstituted in Karnataka and there was delayed reconstitution in the States of Goa, Odisha and West Bengal.
  • The DLCs of Tamil Nadu lacked participation from local traditional communities.
  • There were instances of projects being approved despite inadequacies in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.
  • These included non-accredited consultants preparing the EIA, using outdated data, not evaluating environmental impacts of the project, not appraising the disasters which the project area was prone to and so forth.

What are CRZ norms?

  • In India, the CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • They restrict certain kinds of activities — like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, reclamation and bunding — within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • Under the section 3 of Environment Protection Act, 1986 of India, Coastal Regulation Zone notification was issued in February 1991 for the first time.
  • In 2018-19, fresh Rules were issued, which aimed to remove certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.
  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union environment ministry, implementation is to be ensured by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.

Classifications of Coastal Zones under CRZ Notification 2011

CRZ-I (ecologically sensitive areas like mangroves, coral reefs, biosphere reserves etc.).

  • No new construction shall be permitted in CRZ-I except
  • Projects relating to the Department of Atomic Energy;
  • Construction of trans-harbour sea link and roads without affecting the tidal flow of water, between LTL and HTL. etc.
  • Between Low Tide Line and High Tide Line in areas which are not ecologically sensitive, the following may be permitted;
  • Exploration and extraction of natural gas;
  • Construction of basic amenities like schools, roads, etc. for traditional inhabitants living within the biosphere reserves;
  • Salt harvesting by solar evaporation of seawater;
  • Desalination plants;
  • Storage of non-hazardous cargo such as edible oil, fertilizers within notified ports;

CRZ-II (Areas which are developed up to the shoreline and falling within the municipal limits; includes built-up area – villages and towns are that are already well established),

  • Buildings are permissible on the landward side of the hazardous line.
  • Other activities such as desalination plants are also permissible.
  • Some construction is permitted only as per guidelines specified by the notification.

CRZ-III: Areas that are relatively undisturbed and do not fall under either in Category I or II and also include rural and urban areas that are not substantially developed.

  • Between 0-200 metres from HTL is a No Development Zone where no construction shall be permitted.
  • Only certain activities relating to agriculture, forestry, projects of Department of Atomic Energy, mining of rare minerals, salt manufacture, regasification of petroleum products, non-conventional energy sources and certain public facilities may be permitted in this zone.
  • Between 200-500 metres of HTL, those permitted in 0-200 metres zone, construction of houses for local communities and tourism projects are permissible.

CRZ-IV: The aquatic area from low tide line up to territorial limits is classified as CRZ-IV including the area of the tidal influenced water body.

  • There is no restriction on the traditional fishing undertaken by local communities.
  • No untreated sewage or solid waste shall be let off or dumped in these areas.

New Rules under CRZ regulations

  • The government notified new CRZ Rules with the stated objectives of promoting sustainable development and conserving coastal environments.
  • For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated.
  • In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is now 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
  • In the CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
  • The new Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

Source: The Hindu


Special Economic Zones

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy
  • Mains – GS 3 (Economy – Development)

In News: In the Union Budget this year, the government proposed to replace the existing law governing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with a new legislation to enable states to become partners in ‘Development of Enterprise and Service Hubs’ (DESH).

  • The commerce ministry is proposing a host of direct and indirect incentives such as deferral of import duties and exemption from export taxes to revamp Special Economic Zones through a new legislation.
  • The proposals seek to provide incentives such as retention of zero-rating of IGST on domestic procurement by a unit in an SEZ; continuation of indirect tax benefits to developers of these zones; and allowing depreciation on sale of used capital goods cleared to domestic tariff areas.
  • There is also a plan to extend the corporate tax rate to 15 per cent without any exemptions for units undertaking authorised operations in these development hubs.
  • The existing SEZ Act was enacted in 2006 with an aim to create export hubs and boost manufacturing in the country.
  • However, these zones started losing their sheen after imposition of minimum alternate tax and introduction of sunset clause for removal of tax incentives.

Special Economic Zones

  • An SEZ is a territory within a country that is typically duty-free and has different business and commercial laws chiefly to encourage investment and create employment.
  • SEZs are created also to better administer these areas, thereby increasing the ease of doing business.
  • Asia’s first EPZ (Export Processing Zones) was established in 1965 at Kandla, Gujarat.
  • While these EPZs had a similar structure to SEZs, the government began to establish SEZs in 2000 under the Foreign Trade Policy to redress the infrastructural and bureaucratic challenges that were seen to have limited the success of EPZs.
  • The Special Economic Zones Act was passed in 2005. The Act came into force along with the SEZ Rules in 2006.
  • Presently, 379 SEZs are notified, out of which 265 are operational.
  • About 64% of the SEZs are located in five states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • The Board of Approval is the apex body and is headed by the Secretary, Department of Commerce (Ministry of Commerce and Industry).

Objectives of the SEZ Act:

  • To create additional economic activity.
  • To boost the export of goods and services.
  • To generate employment.
  • To boost domestic and foreign investments.
  • To develop infrastructure facilities.

Major Incentives and Facilities Available to SEZ:

  • Duty free import/domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units
  • Exemption from various taxes like Income Tax, minimum alternate tax, etc
  • External commercial borrowing by SEZ units upto US $ 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through recognized banking channels.
  • Single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.

Challenges

Unutilized Land

  • Due to a lack of demand for SEZ space and disruptions caused by the pandemic, unutilized land in SEZs exists.

Multiple Models

  • Multiple economic zone models exist, including SEZs, coastal economic zones, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone, food parks, and textile parks, all of which face issues in integrating the various models.

Competition from ASEAN Countries

  • Many ASEAN countries have modified their policies in recent years to encourage global players to participate in their SEZs, as well as working on a developing set of skilling projects.

As a result, Indian SEZs have lost some of their worldwide competitive advantages, necessitating new rules.

What measures were taken by the government to revamp SEZs?

  • The government constituted a committee headed by Mr Baba Kalyani, in 2018 to study the existing SEZs of India and prepare a policy framework to adopt strategic policy measures.

Recommendations of the Baba Kalyani committee

  • Rename SEZs in India as 3Es- Employment and Economic Enclave
  • Framework shift from export growth to broad-based employment and economic growth
  • Separate rules and procedures for manufacturing and service SEZs
  • Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in 3Es such as one integrated online portal for new investments
  • Extension of Sunset Clause and retaining tax or duty benefits
  • Unified regulator for IFSC
  • Dispute resolution through arbitration and commercial courts

Budget 2022-23

  • The Budget says that the SEZ Act will be replaced by a new legislation that will enable large existing and new industrial enclaves to optimally utilise available infrastructure and enhance competitiveness of exports.
  • It will enable the States to become partners in development of enterprise and service hubs.
  • It also says that customs administration in SEZs will be fully IT-driven.
  • An infra cluster approach is proposed rather than one based on export subsidies which will be open to WTO challenge.
  • The new SEZ legislation will have single window clearance and provide high class infrastructure.
  • The new dispensation for SEZ, being considered by the government, could allow domestic units to come up in the unutilised area of SEZs and co-exist with SEZ units with proper monitoring.

Source: Financialexpress.com


Asymmetrical federalism

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Polity & Governance)

Context: In a system of asymmetrical federalism, India must remain a strong

  • As India completes 75 years of Independence, the time is apt for us to look at the constitutional, institutional, political and fiscal arrangements that take into account the plurality of our country.
  • It is a nation where four major religions of the world find abode; its Muslim population is the third largest in the world; and Indians speak languages belonging to five different families.
  • Such diversity and plurality call for an arrangement that can pave the way for accommodation and integration reflected in the existing system of asymmetrical federalism.
  • If one looks clinically at the Indian model of asymmetrical federalism, one can gauge it based on the principle of weighted and differentiated equality.
  • This principle calls for equal treatment of all States while being mindful that some States are more equal and unequal than others.
  • So, the capacity to accommodate various social groups and their interests makes India a thriving federal democracy as it displays enormous asymmetric characteristics.

Asymmetric Federalism

  • Asymmetric federalism means federalism based on unequal powers and relationships in political, administrative, and fiscal arrangements between the units constituting a federation.
  • Asymmetry in the arrangements in a federation can be viewed in both vertical (between Centre and states) and horizontal (among the states) senses.

Political and Constitutional Asymmetry

  • Recognising the distinctive cultural differences in the country and permitting self-rule within the scheme of a shared rule to territorially concentrated minorities is how asymmetrical federalism works in India.
  • Such functioning pertains to de facto and de jure asymmetry, where the former is abundant while the latter is limited.
  • Furthermore, such an arrangement only proves that an asymmetrical constitutional setup is indisputably necessary for a multicultural and multinational country such as India to protect the rights of the community and the minorities.
  • This setup facilitates the accommodation of multiple yet complementary identities.
  • In this regard, it is necessary to understand the distinction made by Ronald Watts between political and constitutional asymmetry, both of which exist in our country.
  • While in every federal nation the former is based on the territorial and demographic sizes of the constituent units, the latter characterises the Constitution’s extension of legislative and executive powers to the constituent units.
  • So when we find representation of States in the Rajya Sabha based on their population, it is a political asymmetry.
  • That is why States such as Uttar Pradesh have 31 seats in the Rajya Sabha, whereas Meghalaya and Mizoram have just one each.
  • Constitutional Asymmetry – Self-rule within shared rule
  • We find constitutional asymmetry in Article 370 and in the special provisions and powers extended to Nagaland, Mizoram and others in the omnibus Article 371.
  • The parliamentary statute cannot be implemented in the northeast States mentioned above without the consent of the legislatures of these States.
  • In addition, creation of the Autonomous District Council as per the Sixth Schedule also acknowledges the socio-cultural, political and historical rights of the tribes of the Northeast, thereby facilitating the provisions of self-rule within the scheme of shared rule.
  • Union Territories
  • Furthermore, the Indian asymmetrical setup has evolved to include another type of asymmetry, i.e. Union Territories (UTs).
  • Their establishment is in line with the spirit of federal asymmetry.
  • These are special federating units that have been created multiple times.
  • Delhi’s case is in itself a remarkable example of asymmetrical federalism where we witness the appointment of the Chief Minister of Delhi by the President of India on the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  • This provision is in line with the special status of Delhi as the NCT.

On fiscal arrangements

  • Another significant asymmetry is the fiscal arrangements enshrined in the Constitution.
  • When transferring funds from the Centre to States, statutory transfers are made based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
  • The cost of implementing Centrally sponsored schemes to bring about welfare is co-shared by both the Centre and sub-national units. In the NITI Aayog era, the Centre has considerably reduced the share of its revenue to implement the Centrally sponsored schemes.

These provisions in our Constitution and administration are special arrangements reflective of asymmetrical features.

We must remember that the idea and arrangement of asymmetrical power-sharing can be unsettling if not utilised properly. Such features in our Constitution are neither marginal nor merely provisional. These features touch upon a considerably large number of States. And without these features and provisions, it would not have been possible to undermine the secessionist tendencies of a highly diverse society.

Asymmetrical federalism will continue to have its relevance in the future because to pave the way for cooperative federalism we must be able to accommodate various groups and provide them with a share in the governance of the country at the same time.

Source: The Hindu


Daily Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Which of the following is/are correctly matched?

Ramsar Site State
Yashwant Sagar Madhya Pradesh
Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve Jammu and Kashmir
Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary Tamil Nadu

Choose the correct code:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. 1 and 2

Q.2) Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, recently in news is located in which of the following country?

  1. Russia
  2. Ukraine
  3. Poland
  4. Belarus

Q.3) Consider the following statements about PeVatrons

  1. PeVatrons is the source of some of the highest energy particles that whip across our galaxy.
  2. They typically consist of protons but sometimes also include atomic nuclei and electrons.

Choose the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’15th August 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.


ANSWERS FOR 13th August 2022 – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – a

Q.2) – c

Q.3) – d

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