THE source of death and destruction in South Asia frames neatly in the windscreen of a Boeing 777 as it flies at 37,000ft over India and Bangladesh.

The pilots point to the spectacular Himalayas, basking in the early morning sunshine, where flood waters that swept towards the Brahmaputra Delta began.

Below, the mighty Ganges that merges with the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers to flow into the largest delta in the world and on to the Bay of Bengal, sends torrents of water down stream.

More than 1,200 people have died in the flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal and some 40 million are affected by the devastation, a catastrophe, as Herald foreign editor David Pratt noted on September 1, receiving a fraction of the media coverage of America’s hurricane damage.

For Bangladesh, the monsoon flooding merely adds to challenges for this developing country born just 46 years ago.

Local Bangladeshi newspaper headlines are dominated by the flood of more than 270,000 Moslem Rohingyas, who have fled neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine province in the last two weeks alone.

A Daily Sun editorial was typical: “What has been going on … is state- sponsored genocide – a cruel reality the world has hardly noticed.”

It compared the actions of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government with what it called the genocidal policy of Pakistan as what was then called East Pakistan fought for its freedom and an estimated up to three million people died in 1971.

And Bangladesh wants them out, seeking India’s help to pressure Myanmar to repatriate these stateless people who exist in dire conditions after trekking across the border to flee ruthless persecution by Yangon’s forces.

Bangladesh was founded as a democracy and its first president considered the father of the nation, Mujibur Rahman, enshrined secularism in the constitution of a nation that is 90 per cent Muslim.

The next elections are expected to be held some time in the fourth quarter next year with many considering democracy under threat.

Current prime minister, his elder daughter Sheikh Hasina Wajed, to the despair of many, has taken a perversely different tack to her father, refusing to defend secularism and declining to condemn rising Islamic extremist violence.

An example was the removal earlier this year of a statue of a blindfolded woman in a sari with a sword in one hand and scales in the other from in front of the supreme court. The symbol of justice was denounced by an extremist Islamic group on the grounds it was idolatry.

Bangladesh backs the Saudi Arabian coalition against Iran. Riyadh has restarted work visas for Bangladeshis who remit crucial foreign exchange and has promised $1 billion to build a mosque in all 500 or so towns in the country.

Many Bangladeshis voice despair that Sheikh Hasina will employ whatever tactics it takes to remain in power with police raids on opposition figures.

Security is a concern. A massacre a year ago at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, a popular haunt of expatriates, saw nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and an Indian killed. Diners who could recite the Koran were spared.

Islamic State claimed responsibility and local sources say determined police and military action against suspected IS cells is yielding results though attacks continue. Just this month seven alleged militants died and a huge stash of explosive was found in a raid on a house in Dhaka which the military said was to be used as the base for a massive attack in the city.

Many western embassies warn their nationals against walking in the streets of Dhaka even in daytime and security checks are tight at many buildings.

Against this backdrop of security threats and concern over the future of democracy, the economy is a bright spot with growth running at about seven per cent. That is despite a large fall in remittances from the very large Bangladeshi labouring workforce in the Gulf, with incomes hit by falling oil prices and now the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment manufacturer, with working conditions under close scrutiny by buyers after a factory collapsed in 2013 with the loss of 1,100 lives.

Factory owners claim conditions are improving though two major European buyers boycotted a Bangladeshi garment conference earlier this year in protest at conditions.

At the macro-economic level, however, the World Bank has just rated it a lower middle-income country and assesses that growth is reducing poverty.

For many British people, contact with Bangladeshis comes in Indian restaurants where, despite the description, some eight out of 10 are owned by Bangladeshis of British or Bangladeshi birth.

Far from the floods and terror, these businesses face their own local labour challenges: a UK requirement to pay a salary of £30,000 per employee for cooks to get a British visa, which curry house owners say is not economically feasible.