It is a condition of the Rusties’ invitation that all delegates provide their own ship. The Confederation of South-East Asia, having virtually no presence in space, is in the embarrassing position of having to purchase Shivaji, a former interplanetary liner, off one of its allies.
We are not told much about Shivaji’s technical specifications. It is clearly much larger than Ark Royal — as are most of the ships of the fleet — and is a spinner: rather than have a single rotating section, like Ark Royal and other smaller ships, the entire ship spins to produce the effect of gravity.
To help with the implementation of Krishnamurthy’s plans, substantial internal modifications are made to Shivaji which become apparent in the course of the story.
Shivaji’s name was chosen by RV Krishnamurthy. We are told:
Krishnamurthy worked for the Confederation but at heart he was an Indian, and the ship’s name would be from an earlier and darker part of India’s history: a man for whom Krishnamurthy’s admiration was unbridled and unconditional. Founder of the Maratha state, protector of his people and owner of a name that had struck fear into the hearts of his enemies.
That man was Shivaji Bhonsle, 1627-1680, who led the Hindu Maratha people against Muslim domination and established himself as an independent ruler in what is now Maharashtra state. He was a brave and cunning warrior, who both worked out the concept of guerilla warfare and also kept defeating armies sent against him in open battle. By all accounts he was also a good ruler: his administration was fair, his economy was sound, and despite the fact that he was militantly Hindu and fought against the Mughals he was not only tolerant but protective of other religions practising in his realm.
Krishnamurthy approves wholeheartedly of Shivaji: whether Shivaji would have approved of Krishnamurthy is, of course, unknowable.