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Vinod Kapri. Wikimedia Commons

National Award-winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri’s new documentary “1232 Kms” is garnering praise for the depth with which it chronicles the ordeal of migrant workers during the nationwide lockdown last year.

Opening up on why he decided to make a film on this subject, Kapri told IANS: “When the lockdown was announced on March 24, 2020, from the very next day, I saw a lot of news on the channels and social media that people were migrating back to their villages by walking thousands of kilometers and cycling thousands of miles. I was very curious to understand what their journey was like, what kind of struggles they were facing, how they are getting food, and where they are going.”

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Journalist-turned-filmmaker Kapri joined a group of migrant workers as they pedaled for several hours every day across highways, villages, and towns, traveling on bicycles from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, to Saharsa, Bihar, a distance of 1232 kilometers.

Stranded migrant workers during the fourth phase of the lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

“I was in touch with a group of seven laborers for two weeks. I was providing them with ration and convincing them not to move because lockdown had just been announced and (there was) the risk of the corona. I was able to hold them for two weeks. But then, without informing me, they left and after reaching about 60 kilometers from Ghaziabad, I got to know that they had left. Then, I decided I should go to them and I googled the distance from Ghaziabad to Saharsa. It was 1232 kilometers. Initially, I was scared but then I thought if the migrants can take a decision to cycle, then why couldn’t I go out and just document the journey?” Kapil said.

Sharing his experience and the ordeal of migrants during the journey, the filmmaker revealed: “These laborers went through so many difficulties during the journey. There were instances when villagers didn’t let them drink water, thinking that they may be carrying the virus since they are coming from Delhi. Dhabas that were open wouldn’t let them stay. They met helpful people, too, as a cycle guy helped them after getting to know they had been traveling for so many days, without even taking any money from them.”

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“While capturing their journey, we were clear and careful about the safety rules for the seven migrant laborers and ourselves, too, because we were not sure about where we would get food or a place to relax and take some rest, and the biggest risk was the coronavirus,” he added.

Produced and directed by Vinod Kapri, “1232 Kms” is executive produced by Guneet Monga and Smriti Mundhra. The songs have been penned by legendary lyricist Gulzar and composed by Vishal Bhardwaj. The documentary film streams on Disney+ Hotstar VIP. (IANS/KB)



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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets

An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from the NASA Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission.

The findings, described in a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, showed a planetary system that comprises a star and at least two gas giant planets, each roughly the size of Saturn and located unusually close to one another.

The discovery is significant because it's rare to find gas giants -- like Saturn in the solar system -- as close to their host star as they were in this case.

The researchers cannot yet explain why it occurred there, but it makes the finding especially useful because it could help scientists form a more accurate understanding of the parameters for how planets and planetary systems develop.

"The discovery of each new world provides a unique glimpse into the physics that play a role in planet formation," said lead author Jon Zink, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar.

The findings could be a significant step toward helping astronomers understand which types of stars are most likely to have planets orbiting them and what that indicates about the building blocks needed for successful planet formation, acoording to the study.

"We need to look at a wide range of stars, not just ones like our sun, to understand that," Zink said.

The term "exoplanets" is used to describe planets outside of the solar system. The number of exoplanets that have been identified by astronomers numbers fewer than 5,000 in all, so the identification of hundreds of new ones is a significant advance.

Kepler's original mission came to an unexpected end in 2013 when a mechanical failure left the spacecraft unable to precisely point at the patch of sky it had been observing for years.

But astronomers repurposed the telescope for a new mission known as K2, whose objective is to identify exoplanets near distant stars. Data from K2 is helping scientists understand how stars' location in the galaxy influences what kind of planets are able to form around them. (IANS/JB)